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Stocks slip, dollar drifts after Fed cools rate cut bets

Stock MarketsMay 02, 2019 05:20AM ET
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© Reuters. The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - The dollar nursed overnight gains while Europe's share markets struggled early on, after the U.S. central bank dampened bets that it might be readying its first interest rate cut in years.

Oil and metals markets added to the pressure on stocks on Thursday with traders sending copper to a 2-month low and using news of record U.S. oil production to cash in some of Brent crude's near 33 percent rise this year.

Europe's basic resource stocks led the downward shift in equities with a 1.4 percent drop to their lowest since late March. Continental Europe was also trying to get back up to speed having been shut for holidays on Wednesday. (EU)

There was the Fed’s signals too. For all the intense political pressure to ease policy and the mixed growth/inflation data, the U.S. central bank held the line on Wednesday and refused to signal anything other than it was still on pause.

The dollar index drifted around 97.600 against its set of major currency peers after going as high as 97.728 and hovering around $1.1211 to the euro and $1.30 to Britain's pound with the Bank of England set to keep its rates on hold later.

Although the Fed made the predicted 5 basis point cut to the interest it pays on banks’ excess reserves – a technical move to ease money market tightness as it runs down its balance sheet - chairman Jerome Powell was unwavering on the rate outlook and said the recent relapse in inflation rates was likely temporary.

"The market has gotten perhaps ahead of itself in quite confidently pricing in (U.S) interest rate cuts," said Michael Metcalfe, head of global macro strategy at State Street (NYSE:STT) Global Markets.

"Powell was quite dismissive of the latest downturn in inflation... which I think has caused the market to reassess that a little bit."

Core European government bond yields also shuffled higher, tracking the rise in U.S. Treasuries after the Fed's message.


Asia trading had been thinned by holidays in Japan and China but Hong Kong and Korea's stocks gained after CNBC reported the U.S. and China could announce a long-awaited trade deal by May 10, as Chinese Vice Premier Liu He heads to Washington.

Though now expected by markets if confirmed, it would remove significant uncertainty that has weighed on markets and global data for a year now.

"I would still expect some relief rally once the deal gets done. The question is how big that move might be," State Street GM's Metcalfe added.

Elsewhere Turkey's lira remained under pressure near the 6 per dollar mark after data there had showed manufacturing activity contracting for the 13th month in a row. Euro zone factory activity also contracted for a third straight month.

"Demand shortages were again evident in the Turkish manufacturing sector in April, while currency weakness led to inflationary pressures building again," said Andrew Harker, associate director of IHS Markit.

In commodities markets, the drop in oil prices came after U.S. crude production output set a new record, though the losses were capped by the intensifying crisis in Venezuela and the stopping of Iranian oil sanction waivers by Washington. [O/R]

U.S. crude was last off 27 cents at $63.32 a barrel while Brent slipped 33 cents to $71.86. Copper was at a two month low after a heavy tumble on Wednesday, while spot gold was marginally weaker at $1,271.55 an ounce.

Stocks slip, dollar drifts after Fed cools rate cut bets

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