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US stocks edge lower, dollar’s post-Fed rally pauses

US stocks

The dollar and US stocks dipped yesterday, taking a breather after this week’s big moves on the Federal Reserve’s signal for a faster pace of US interest rate increases next year.

US Treasury debt yields inched higher, continuing a weeks-long trend. Markets appeared to be adjusting for what is expected to be a quiet holiday period for economic data.

“We took direction from the Fed but over the next couple of weeks we’ll see some more cleaning up of positions heading into the year-end,” said Tom Simons, money market economist at Jefferies & Co in New York.

Bond yields have surged and the dollar has rallied since the Fed on Wednesday raised rates for the first time in a year and its forecasts showed three more rate increases in 2017. The dollar has since strengthened to almost parity with the euro.

US stocks, which fell on Wednesday following the Fed meeting but bounced back on Thursday, were mostly down slightly yesterday.

However, the Dow continued to march toward 20,000, a level it has never breached.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 19.77 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 19,872.01, the S&P 500 had lost 2.5 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 2,258.31 and the Nasdaq Composite had dropped 7.40 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 5,449.46.

World stocks as measured by the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 46 countries, was barely higher.

Merger and acquisition speculation around drug maker Actelion and insurer Generali helped the benchmark index to set an 11-month high earlier in the session.

In the foreign exchange market, the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was last at 102.84, down 0.2 per cent. It hit a 14-year high of 103.560 on Thursday.

In mid-morning US trading, 10-year Treasury prices were down 4/32, yielding 2.593 per cent, up from Thursday’s 2.578 per cent. On the week, 10-year yields have gained nearly 13 basis points.

In commodities, a strong dollar and signs of mounting supply in London Metal Exchange warehouses dragged copper prices lower. Other industrial metals also slipped.

Oil prices jumped as producers showed signs of adhering to a global deal to reduce output. Brent crude futures were trading at $55.09 (£44.12) per barrel, up two per cent, while US crude was up 1.9 per cent at $51.84 (£41.51).

Paul

The author Paul