Thursday, 25 July 2024

Bond yields climb, stocks under pressure as Fed cut doubts resurface

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U.S. Treasury yields pushed to a near four-week peak on Wednesday, lifting their Asia-Pacific counterparts and the dollar while pressuring equities, as data sowed new doubts about the timing and extent of Federal Reserve rate cuts, Reuters reported.

Crude oil rose for a fourth day to reach a four-week high amid speculation OPEC+ will maintain production cuts at a meeting this Sunday.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year yields ticked up as high as 4.568% in Tokyo trading hours, a level not seen since May 3, following poorly received two- and five-year Treasury auctions overnight.

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Equivalent Japanese yields hit the highest since December 2011 at 1.07%, while Australian yields jumped to a more than three-week top of 4.428%.

Investors were also caught off-guard by a sharp improvement in a U.S. consumer confidence measure for May. Economists had predicted a fourth straight month of weaker confidence, particularly after a tepid reading for the University of Michigan’s analogous survey result from Friday.

That has kept the market guessing about the strength of the economy and sticky inflationary pressures, which in turn cloud the outlook for the Fed’s policy path.

Traders currently put the odds of at least a quarter-point interest rate cut by September at 44% following the data, from a coin toss a day earlier, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool.

The dollar rose to a four-week peak of 157.41 yen on Wednesday, while gaining about 0.1% against both the euro and sterling.

Australia’s dollar slipped slightly to $0.6646, giving up gains from earlier in the day following an unexpected jump in local consumer inflation last month.

“Whether incoming U.S. economic news sees the money market pendulum swing back in favour of lower U.S. rates in Q3” will be key to whether the Aussie can top this month’s four-month peak of $0.6714, National Australia Bank strategists wrote in a client note.

“Our base line view is ‘yes it will’ – we still have September for a first Fed easing, then another by year-end.”

Regional stock markets were lower on Wednesday, with the notable exception of mainland China.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.8%, Australia’s benchmark dropped 1.2%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 1.8%.

However, mainland blue chips edged 0.1% higher after the IMF upgraded its economic growth forecasts for China.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares dropped 1.4%.

U.S. S&P 500 futures pointed 0.4% lower following a flat finish on Tuesday for the cash index.

UK FTSE futures shed 0.5% and German DAX futures lost 0.3%.

In energy markets, Brent crude futures for July delivery rose 18 cents, or 0.21%, to $84.40 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures for July climbed 29 cents, or 0.36%, to $80.12.

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