Shares climb, dollar falls with Fed comments inspiring dovish bets

By Sinéad Carew and Amanda Cooper

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -MSCI’s global stock index rose on Friday and marked its fifth straight weekly gain while U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar fell on the day as investors were encouraged by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s vow to move “carefully” on interest rates.

Treasury yields fell after Powell said the risks of hiking interest rates too much and slowing the economy more than necessary have become “more balanced” with the risks of not hiking enough to control inflation.

“Powell is trying to be balanced, trying to make sure the market doesn’t get ahead of itself. He doesn’t want the market or traders to speculate on rate decreases,” said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist at Ingalls & Snyder in New York.

“He’s all about the data, and the core inflation data over the last six months has been good. But he reiterates the objective is still 2% and he doesn’t want all the work the Fed has done to bring inflation down to suddenly be reversed.”

While Powell tried to “subtly convince markets” of the Fed’s commitment to keep rates high, Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Corpay in Toronto doubted this would “deter investors betting on a dramatic pivot in early 2024.”

This view appeared to be confirmed by a risk-on mood on Wall Street with all three of its major averages closing higher and the S&P 500 registering its highest closing level since March 2022.

Investor optimism about rate cuts surged earlier this week after Fed Governor Christopher Waller – widely seen as a hawkish policymaker – flagged the possibility of lower interest rates in coming months if inflation continued to ease.

“The lack of pushing back on Waller leads the market to conclude that Powell’s okay with where equities and long-term treasury yields have been going recently,” said Josh Jamner, investment strategy analyst at Clearbridge Investments, New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 294.61 points, or 0.82%, to 36,245.5, the S&P 500 gained 26.83 points, or 0.59%, to 4,594.63 and the Nasdaq Composite added 78.81 points, or 0.55%, to 14,305.03.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.60%. For the week, the index was on track for a gain of 0.9% marking its fifth consecutive week of gains, which is its longest winning streak since the five week stretch ended Nov. 5, 2021.

Earlier on Friday, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its manufacturing PMI was unchanged at 46.7 last month. It was the 13th consecutive month the PMI stayed below 50, indicating a contraction in manufacturing and the longest such stretch since the period from August 2000 to January 2002.

Mona Mahajan, senior investment strategist at Edward Jones said Friday’s data supported the idea of lower inflation, a gradually cooling economy and the Fed staying on the sidelines.

In currencies, the dollar fell after two days of gains.

Jeffery J. Roach, chief economist at LPL Financial noted that a few weeks ago, Powell described policy as restrictive but today, he said it is ‘well into restrictive territory.’ Roach said “it’s fair for markets to latch on to that subtlety.”

The dollar index fell 0.232%, with the euro down 0.06% to $1.0879. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.93% versus the greenback at 146.84 per dollar.

Sterling was last trading at $1.2709, up 0.69% on the day supported by expectations the Bank of England will take longer than either the Fed or the ECB to cut rates.

In Treasuries, the benchmark 10-year notes were down 13.7 basis points to 4.213%, from 4.35% late on Thursday. The 30-year bond was last down 11.6 basis points to yield 4.3952% while the 2-year note was last was down 16 basis points to yield 4.5549%, from 4.715%.

Oil prices settled more than 2% lower for a second consecutive day, with the market unconvinced the latest round of OPEC+ production cuts will be enough to lift prices from a recent slump.

U.S. crude settled down 2.49% at $74.07 per barrel and Brent ended at $78.88, down 2.45% on the day.

Gold surged to a record high of $2,075.09, also lifted by expectations the Fed was done with policy tightening and could cut rates next year.

Spot gold added 1.7% to $2,071.21 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 1.62% to $2,071.10 an ounce.

(Reporting by Sinéad Carew, Caroline Valetkevitch, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York, Amanda Cooper in London and Stella Qiu; Editing by Alexander Smith, Kirsten Donovan and Daniel Wallis)