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Stocks, dollar lower after Fed holds rates steady

Published 05/01/2024, 04:46 AM
Updated 05/01/2024, 02:59 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken July 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of global stocks fell on Wednesday while the dollar dipped against a basket of peers after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and indicated it is still leaning toward eventual rate cuts and after a batch of U.S. economic data.

But the Fed put a red flag on recent disappointing inflation readings and suggested a possible stall in the movement toward more balance in the economy.

The central bank also announced plans to slow the speed of its balance sheet drawdown, after having spent much of the earlier part of the year warning of such a shift.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of CFRA Research in New York, said the Fed's policy statement contained no big surprises.

"That thing is perused with a fine-tooth comb, and if there's going to be any kind of reaction up or down today, it'll be as a result of answers during the press conference," he said.

He noted the release of employment data at the end of this week, which will be closely watched. "But there are several things that are going to hold back the market, in my opinion," Stovall said. "One is the stickiness of the inflation, the actual inflation readings, the concern that we are seeing a slowdown in economic growth based on the recent GDP numbers, combined with PMI data, and consumer confidence coming in weaker than anticipated."

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was slightly lower in choppy trading in the wake of the Fed's policy announcement, after each of the major indexes closed out April with their first monthly declines since October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172.78 points, or 0.46%, to 37,986.53, the S&P 500 lost 3.66 points, or 0.07%, to 5,032.03, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.38 points, or 0.00%, to 15,658.20.

Earlier, data from the ADP Employment report showed U.S. private payrolls increased more than expected in April while data for the prior month was revised higher.

But a separate report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, showed U.S. job openings fell to a three-year low in March, while the number of people quitting their jobs declined, indications of easing labor market conditions that could potentially aid the Fed in its fight against inflation.

Other data from the Institute for Supply Management pointed to continued sluggishness in U.S. manufacturing, which contracted in April amid a decline in orders after briefly expanding in the prior month.

The data comes ahead of the government's key employment report on Friday.

Markets have dialed back expectations for the timing and amount of rate cuts from the central bank this year, as inflation has proved to be sticky and the labor market remains on solid footing.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe fell 0.94 points, or 0.12%, to 755.67.

Investors were also grappling with a deluge of U.S. corporate earnings, with Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) up about 3% after its quarterly results, helping lift the Dow.

The dollar index fell 0.21% at 106.10, following the Fed statement, after earlier reaching 106.49, the highest since April 16, with the euro up 0.22% at $1.0688.

The yield on benchmark U.S. 10-year notes fell 5.2 basis points to 4.632%, from 4.684% late on Tuesday while the 2-year note yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, fell 4.8 basis points to 4.9977%.

European bond markets were closed for the May 1 holiday as were most stock markets in Europe and those in China, Hong Kong and much of Asia.

Of the stock markets that were trading, Britain's FTSE ended 0.28% lower, and Japan's Nikkei closed down 0.34%.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken July 17, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Oil prices fell for a third day on increasing hopes for a ceasefire agreement in the Middle East and extending declines after the U.S. EIA storage report.

U.S. crude lost 3.54% to $79.03 a barrel and Brent fell to $83.49 per barrel, down 3.29% on the day.

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