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World shares gain ahead of US jobs tally, Fed chair comments

Stocks are higher in Europe and Asia after a wobbly day on Wall Street, when the S&P 500 gave back most of its gains from a day earlier.

Benchmarks rose Wednesday in Paris, London, Tokyo and Shanghai. US futures also advanced.

Investors have taken heart from an easing in bond yields that has alleviated worries over possible interest rate hikes. The yield on the 10-year Treasury inched down to 1.40 per cent early Wednesday.

But expectations for stronger economic growth in coming months continue to fuel worries that interest rates will head higher.

It feels like we are in the eye of the storm,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary. Investors have recently focused on selling high-priced technology shares but are also watching for policy changes as President Joe Biden’s USD 1.9 billion stimulus package heads into the Senate after narrowly passing in the House.

How much overheating and inflation will the Biden fiscal stimulus generate remains at the top of virtually every market conversation,” Innes said.

Germany’s DAX surged 0.9 per cent to 14,169.37 and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.8 per cent to 5,857.

Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 1.2 per cent to 6,690.55. The future for the S&P 500 climbed 0.7 per cent and that for the Dow industrials was 0.7 per cent higher.

In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 2.7 per cent to 29,792.81. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 added 0.5 per cent to 29,559.10, while the Kospi in Seoul picked up 1.3 per cent to 3,082.99. The Shanghai Composite index advanced 2 per cent to 3,576.90.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8 per cent to 6,818.00 after the government reported the economy grew at a 3.1 per cent quarterly rate, but a minus 1.1 per cent annual rate, in the fourth quarter of last year. The better than expected result was helped by consumer demand and public spending, analysts said.

India’s Sensex surged 1.5 per cent to 51,036.24.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.8 per cent to 3,870.29 after earlier flipping between small gains and losses. A day before, the benchmark index had leaped 2.4 per cent for its best performance since June. Technology and internet stocks accounted for much of the selling, a reversal from a day earlier.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 per cent to 31,391.52.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite dropped 1.7 per cent, to 13,358.79, while the Russell 2000 small-cap index gave up 1.9 per cent, to 2,231.51.

Higher interest rates make each USD 1 of profit that companies earn a little less valuable. That’s making Wall Street reconsider the value of technology stocks, in large part because their recent dominance left them looking even pricier than the rest of the market.

Treasury yields have risen above 1.50 per cent recently with expectations for economic growth and inflation, up from about 0.9 per cent at the beginning of the year.

Such a rise makes borrowing more expensive for homebuyers, companies taking out loans and virtually everyone else. That can slow economic growth.

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard sought to calm financial markets by emphasizing that the Fed, while generally optimistic about the economy, is still far from raising interest rates or reducing its USD 120 billion a month in asset purchases.

“We’ve got some distance to go to meet our goals, of higher inflation and lower unemployment, Brainard said.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak on Thursday, and at the end of the week will be the government’s jobs report, which is typically the highlight economic report of every month. It also includes numbers for how much wages are rising across the economy, a key component of inflation.

In other trading, US benchmark crude oil rose 8 cents to USD 59.81 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost 89 cents to USD 59.75 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, added 12 cents to USD 62.82 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 106.88 Japanese yen from 106.68 yen late Tuesday. The euro fell to USD 1.2084 from USD 1.2091.

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