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Markets

US stocks overcome Fed interest rate jitters

  • The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index struck a record high on Tuesday and the S&P 500 is close to its record.
23 Jun 2021

LONDON: US stocks pushed higher as trading got underway on Wednesday as interest rate hike fears faded, while eurozone shares slumped despite data showing the economy is booming.

The Dow rose 0.1 percent following the opening bell, adding to gains racked up on Tuesday after Fed chief Jerome Powell sought to ease concerns over the timing of higher interest rates in testimony before lawmakers.

"The markets appear to be finding relief from yesterday's dovish testimony on Capitol Hill by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell," said analysts at Charles Schwab brokerage.

Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare noted that Wall Street has pretty much recovered from the losses it suffered last week, when fears that the Fed would hike rates and wind down stimulus support to ward off inflation saw the market turn in its worst weekly performance since last October.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index struck a record high on Tuesday and the S&P 500 is close to its record.

O'Hare said the market is back to trading on expectations of rises in commodity prices and gravitating towards sectors that will benefit from the reopening of economies.

Back in Europe, a key survey showed eurozone business activity jumped at its fastest rate in 15 years this month, as a reopened economy unleashed pent-up demand in the single-currency area.

IHS Markit's PMI index -- which shows the earliest trends in manufacturing and service sectors -- said eurozone activity leapt from 57.1 in May to a booming 59.2 in June, far above the 50-point level that indicates growth.

The data set the scene for major growth, closing the chapter on a double-dip recession that came with the second wave lockdowns of last autumn and winter.

If the eurozone economy is booming, its stocks were a bust, with Frankfurt's DAX 30 index down 0.3 percent in afternoon trade, and the CAC 40 in Paris shedding 0.3 percent.

IHS Market also revealed that Britain's private sector business activity expanded at a near-record pace as firms reopen from lockdown.

London's FTSE 100 index was 0.5 percent higher.

Oil prices extended gains to sit around multi-year highs on increasing optimism over demand as the world economy reopens and governments talk about easing quarantine measures, allowing easier overseas travel.

Analysts said the lack of progress on the Iran nuclear deal was also providing support as it puts off the return of supplies to the global market from the major producer.

Brent oil hit $75.83 per barrel, the highest level since late October 2018.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin rebounded to sit near $34,600 one day after falling below $29,000 for the first time since January.

The unit has taken a hit this week by fresh moves to crack down on cryptocurrencies by China.

"Bitcoin's continued sell-off has contributed to a negative outlook by traders driven by bearish news out of China," said analyst Nick Mancini at Trade The Chain.

Key figures at 1330 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,127.07 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 15,586.10

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,593.90

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 4,107.74

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 percent at 33,979.52

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 28,874.89 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.8 percent at 28,817.07 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,566.22 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1954 from $1.1940 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3988 from $1.3949

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.47 pence from 85.60 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.88 yen from 110.65 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.3 percent at $75.77 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.4 percent at $73.87 per barrel

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