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Stocks, US yields fall as investors gauge economic sturdiness

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Stocks, US yields fall as investors gauge economic sturdiness By Reuters

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Published Dec 05, 2023 02:08
Updated Dec 05, 2023 19:50

© 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 Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global stocks was poised for a second straight decline and U.S. Treasury yields fell on Tuesday, as investors attempted to assess the policy path of major central banks and the pace of slowing economic growth.

Softening economic data and recent comments from Federal Reserve officials, including Chair Jerome Powell, have heightened expectations that the U.S. central bank has ended its interest rate hiking cycle and will begin to cut rates as soon as March.

In addition, expectations have grown that the European Central Bank (ECB) could cut rates in the first quarter of 2024.

Expectations for a U.S. rate cut of at least 25 basis points (bps) in March are about 64%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool, up from about 35% a week ago. Markets are pricing in a 74% chance of a cut by the ECB in March, according to LSEG data.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 78.42 points, or 0.22% , to 36,125.57, the S&P 500 lost 1.25 points, or 0.03 %, to 4,568.49 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 37.69 points, or 0.27 %, to 14,223.19.

The Fed’s next policy meeting is on Dec. 12-13.

Investors got their first look at what will be a string of data on the labor market this week in the form of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report, and will culminate in the government’s payrolls report on Friday, which will heavily influence market views on the Fed’s policy steps.

U.S. job openings dropped in October to the lowest level since early 2021, indicating that the labor market was easing as higher interest rates cool demand in the economy.

“The data is better than expected, meaning that the job market is weaker, but it’s not so weak that it requires maybe a Fed rate cut or is in jeopardy of a recession,” said Paul Nolte, senior wealth adviser and market strategist at Murphy & Sylvest.

“And it’s certainly not strong enough to say the Fed is going to need to raise rates.”

Other data indicated the U.S. services sector picked up steam in November as business activity increased, although new orders were flat and a gauge of input inflation slipped.

U.S. Treasury yields fell, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note touching its lowest level since Sept. 1 at 4.163% and was last down 11 basis points to 4.174%.

The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, declined 6 basis points to 4.593% on the day.

European shares closed higher, and Germany’s DAX climbed 0.8% to close at a fresh record, buoyed by strong gains in Allianz (ETR:ALVG) and Daimler Truck Holding, with the STOXX 600 index up 0.4%. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe lost 0.23%.

ECB board member Isabel Schnabel, seen as the most influential voice in the conservative camp of policymakers, told Reuters the ECB can take further interest rate hikes off the table given a “remarkable” fall in inflation and policymakers should not guide for rates to remain steady through mid-2024.

{{2126|The dodollar index rose 0.38% at 104.01, while the euro was down 0.48% to $1.0784.

In commodity trading, U.S. crude was last 0.59% lower at $72.61 a barrel while Brent crude fell 0.74% to $77.45 in choppy trading as the stronger U.S. dollar and demand concerns offset supply worries after Russia said OPEC+ was ready to deepen output cuts in the first quarter of next year.

Stocks, US yields fall as investors gauge economic sturdiness

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