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Stocks slip, dollar rises ahead of US inflation data

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Stocks slip as traders hold fire ahead of US inflation data By Reuters

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Published Feb 28, 2024 02:32
Updated Feb 28, 2024 17:41

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Passersby walk past an electric board displaying Japan’s Nikkei share average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan April 18, 2023. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

By Sinéad Carew and Tom Wilson

NEW YORK/ LONDON (Reuters) – A global equities index fell slightly on Wednesday while Treasury yields edged down and the dollar rose against a basket of major currencies as traders were cautious the day ahead of U.S. inflation data that could influence the timing of the Federal Reserve’s easing cycle.

Investors were focused squarely on January’s U.S. personal consumption expenditures price index (PCE), due on Thursday as it is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure.

A Reuters poll shows that economists expect the index to have risen 0.3% on a monthly basis in January compared with a 0.2% increase in December.

Traders have already dialed back initial expectations for Fed interest rate cuts after a slew of strong data, including sticky consumer price index

“We’re on hold until we get the PCE print. The market’s going to chop around,” said Jack Janasiewicz, portfolio manager and lead portfolio strategist at Natixis Investment Managers Solutions. “Between CPI and PPI there’s a narrative that inflation is going to be sticker than expected or even potentially having a modest re-acceleration.”

But he noted that U.S. stock indexes were still not far from records reached last week despite the PCE jitters.

This is partly thanks to a fourth-quarter earnings season looked better than expected and included a boost from Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) to broader optimism about artificial intelligence.

“The market’s had every chance to sell off but its holding up pretty well,” he said. “It’s actually been looking past inflation to an extent because earnings has been better than expected.”

Other data due this week that may shape expectations on the Fed’s policy include a second estimate of gross domestic product, jobless claims and manufacturing activity.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.29% while on Wall Street the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.19 points, or 0.17%, to 38,904.22.

The S&P 500 lost 7.63 points, or 0.15%, to 5,070.55 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 60.02 points, or 0.37%, to 15,975.28.

Meanwhile, European stocks had dipped as lackluster corporate earnings also weighed on sentiment with the pan-European STOXX 600 index down 0.35%.

The U.S. dollar rose as investors positioned for U.S. and European inflation data due on Thursday, while the Australian and New Zealand dollars tumbled after New Zealand’s central bank cut its forecast peak for interest rates and Australian consumer price inflation held at a two-year low

{{2126|The dodollar index rose 0.058%, with the euro down 0.03% to $1.0841.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.12% versus the greenback at 150.69 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2662, down 0.17% on the day.

U.S. Treasuries yields edged down after solid economic growth in the fourth quarter barely budged bonds as investors awaited for the inflation data for insight into Fed rate cut timing.

Benchmark 10-year notes were down 2.8 basis points to 4.288%, from 4.315% late on Tuesday. The 30-year bond was last down 1.6 basis points to yield 4.424%, from 4.44%. The 2-year note was last was down 5.2 basis points to yield 4.6602%, from 4.712%.

In crypto currencies, bitcoin surged for a fifth day buoyed by flows into new U.S. spot bitcoin exchange traded products that have driven it up nearly 40% in February, which would mark its largest monthly rally since December 2020.

It was last up 9.1% at $61,875.11, hitting its highest level since November 2021.

Gold prices ticked up on Wednesday as traders strapped in for key economic data and comments from U.S. central bank officials on the timeline of interest rate cuts.

Spot gold added 0.2% to $2,033.80 an ounce.

In commodities, oil futures trading was choppy as the prospect of delays to U.S. interest rate cuts and a higher-than expected rise in U.S. crude stocks offset support from a potential extension to OPEC+ supply cuts.

U.S. crude recently fell 0.32% to $78.62 per barrel and Brent was at $83.48, down 0.2% on the day.

Stocks slip as traders hold fire ahead of US inflation data

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