United States dollar slides, yields slip, stocks steady after Fed meeting

22 March, 2018, 02:09 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • Justin Sullivan  Getty Images

USA stock index futures were lower on Wednesday as traders moved cautiously ahead of an expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike and continuing fallout from Facebook Inc's data privacy breach.

The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to lift its key interest rate during its two-day policy meeting ending Wednesday.

World shares fell on Wednesday and the United States dollar eased off three-week highs as markets awaited a likely increase in USA interest rates and guidance on how many more to expect for this year.

Investors were also spooked by signs of a brewing global trade war after the Wall Street Journal reported that China was planning counter-measures against USA trade tariffs.

Wall Street declined on Monday as a plunge in Facebook pressured the technology sector amid reports that the social media company's user information was misused. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.46 percent to 2,729.57 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC rose 0.38 percent to 7,392.37.

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"But if we see retaliation, and significant trade disruptions, it's a different order or magnitude, could begin to affect global growth forecasts".

One worry among equity investors is faster rate hikes could dent the appeal of stocks relative to bonds as fixed income securities become less pricey than they've been in the low-rate era.

There was "no change to 2018 and I think that’s why you have such a muted reaction", said Aaron Kohli, an interest rate strategist at BMO Capital Markets in NY.

Aside from the Fed, the Trump administration is creating a stir with plans for up to $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports by Friday, targeting technology, telecommunications and intellectual property, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

This week's meeting of finance ministers and central banks of the world's 20 biggest economies failed to diffuse tensions, with the G20 said only it "recognised" the need for more "dialogue and actions".

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Ahead of the Fed announcement, 2-year Treasury note yields, which are highly sensitive to Fed policy expectations, hit their highest in more than nine years on Wednesday morning at 2.35 percent.

Fears of a trade war have also weighed on commodity prices, though tensions in the Middle East supported oil, lifting Brent futures nearly half a percent.

Concerns about rising U.S. Treasury bond issuance as the government faces a widening fiscal deficit after last year's U.S. tax cuts has seen yields rise this year.

Amazon.com climbed 2.69 percent, topping Google-parent Alphabet Inc.in market value, and becoming the second most valuable company in the U.S.

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