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Jun 20, 2019

S&P 500 hits record close on Fed easing speculation

BNN Bloomberg's mid-morning market update: June 20, 2019

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U.S. stocks rose to a record, while sovereign bonds extended gains and the dollar slumped after central banks around the world continued a shift toward easier monetary policy. Oil surged amid rising tensions with Iran.

The S&P 500 opened at an all-time high, spurred by speculation the Federal Reserve will cut rates soon enough to avert an economic slump. The benchmark retreated after President Donald Trump hinted at possible retaliation for Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, only to rebound and close above the previous high set on April 30. Energy shares led the gain as crude surged more than 5 per cent. The Cboe Volatility Index rose above 15.

The geopolitical tensions briefly overshadowed fresh impetus for risk assets from the Fed, Bank of Japan and Bank of England, all of which signaled a readiness to support growth. The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield dropped below 2 per cent for the first time since November 2016, while the greenback sank the most since January. Gold surged toward US$1,400 an ounce.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s a concern because it creates uncertainty,” said Ernie Cecilia, chief investment officer at Bryn Mawr Trust Co. “From a longer-term perspective, we’d think that any issues would get resolved diplomatically.”

Traders are now pricing in a virtual certainty the U.S. central bank will cut rates by July, Fed fund futures show. Seven of 17 Fed officials now think it will be appropriate to lower the benchmark overnight rate by a half-percentage point by the end of the year, according to updated projections published Wednesday. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cited “uncertainties” in the outlook that have increased the case for a rate reduction as officials seek to prolong the near-record American economic expansion.

“The Fed did a great job walking what had to be a pretty fine line between giving the markets what they were wanting, the removal of ‘patience,’ the knowledge that the Fed does stand ready to cut rates, if needed,” Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks 

  • The S&P 500 Index rose 1 per cent to a closing record of 2,954.18 as of 4:06 p.m. New York time. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.8 per cent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.94 per cent.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 increased 0.4 per cent to the highest in about seven weeks.
  • The MSCI Emerging Market Index surged 1.6 per cent to the highest in more than six weeks.
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.4 per cent to the highest in more than six weeks.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index declined 0.6 per cent, to the lowest since January.
  • The euro rose 0.5 per cent to US$1.1277, the strongest in more than a week.
  • The yen strengthened 0.5 per cent at 107.52 per dollar, the strongest in more than five months.
  • The British pound increased 0.5 per cent to US$1.2696, the strongest in more than a week.
  • The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index rose 1 per cent.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell 2 basis points to 2 per cent.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield eased 3 basis points to -0.32 per cent.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield declined 6 basis points to 0.81 per cent, after touching the lowest level in almost three years.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate rose 5.4 per cent to US$56.65 a barrel.
  • Gold increased 2.1 per cent to US$1,389 an ounce.
  • The Bloomberg Commodity Index jumped 1.8 per cent.

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