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Stocks gain, dollar stumbles as US averts default, Fed skip bets rise

Global stocks and commodities rose on Friday while the dollar headed for its biggest weekly drop since January, as sentiment was buoyed by signs the Fed will skip a rate hike at its next meeting and the approval of U.S. debt ceiling legislation.

Markets are now focused on U.S. jobs data due 0830 EST (1230 GMT), the most significant macro economic release of the week, for more cues on the Federal Reserve’s rate hike path.

The U.S. Labor Department’s employment report is likely to show nonfarm payrolls increased by 190,000 jobs last month after rising 253,000 in April, according to a Reuters survey of economists.

“The release is really going to dictate the future of Fed policy after the speech of the vice chair-designate Jefferson that likely took a June rate hike off the table,” said Jeff Schulze, head of economic and market strategy at Clearbridge

“The only way that (a June rate increase) is going to be in play is if you see a large beat to the upside of both payrolls and CPI.”

Vice chair nominee Philip Jefferson said on Wednesday skipping a rate hike at a coming meeting would allow the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee to see more data before making decisions about the extent of additional policy firming, remarks echoed by several other Fed speakers.

Jefferson’s nomination as vice chair is still pending approval from the U.S. Senate.

Market pricing indicates roughly a 75% chance the Fed will hold rates steady at its upcoming meeting, according to the CME’s Fedwatch tool, though there is roughly 50% chance of a 25 basis point rate hike at one of the Fed’s June or July meetings.

The dovish tone caused a rally in U.S. Treasuries. The 10-year yield, last at 3.6142%, was steady on the day on Friday, but was set for a weekly drop of around 20 basis points, its biggest weekly fall since mid March. [US/]

That helped shares to rally, and Europe’s broad STOXX 600 index is up 1% and headed for a second day of gains, with mining stocks, up 4.4%, among the bigger movers.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan rose 2% earlier on Friday, with Japan’s Nikkei ending the day at its highest close since July 1990.

Nasdaq and S&P 500 futures were both up around 0.5% after each index reached nine-month closing highs on Thursday.


Boosting the mood was the U.S. Senate passing bipartisan legislation backed by President Joe Biden that lifts the government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, averting what would have been a first-ever default.

“The fact that this is potentially getting resolved earlier does remove some potential distortions,” said Phil Shucksmith, portfolio manager at Newton Investment Management

Investors’ focus now will turn to the market impact of the U.S. Treasury issuing more bonds to refill its empty coffers, which could put pressure on liquidity, or ready cash available to banks.

“We’ve probably got some degree of rebuild of that treasury general account,” said Shucksmith, which, along with quantitative tightening, “means I think there’s going to be tightening of financial conditions.”

Lower U.S. yields were also playing out in currency markets with the dollar index, which measures the U.S. currency against six major peers, down 0.15% on the day 103.4, set for a weekly fall of 0.8%, its biggest weekly decline since March.

Gains against the dollar have been shared out fairly broadly among other currencies, but sterling was to the fore, set for a weekly gain of 1.4%, its most since December.

The euro is up 0.27% against the dollar this week, dragged by lower European yields after inflation showed signs of slowing, welcome news for the European Central Bank and reinforcing market bets that the ECB too could be done with interest rate hikes in the coming few months.

The bullish sentiment and softer dollar helped push oil prices higher, with U.S. crude up 1.74% at $71.52 per barrel and Brent at $75.57, up 2%. Markets are also weighing the likelihood of price-supportive OPEC+ production cuts over the weekend.

Copper prices were heading for their first weekly gain since April with other metals trading higher too.

Spot gold was flat at $1,978 an ounce, but set for its biggest weekly gain in nearly two months, as a softer dollar and lower yields bolstered the bullion’s appeal.
Source: Reuters

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