Stocks rise, dollar slips on Powell comments seen as dovish

Stocks rise, dollar slips on Powell comments seen as dovish
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NEW YORK/LONDON (Feb 8): Global equities rose and the dollar fell on Tuesday (Feb 7), reversing earlier moves, as the market perceived comments by the US Federal Reserve (Fed) chair to be dovish, even after he reiterated fighting inflation will require higher interest rates and more time.

Jerome Powell said disinflation had started and that he expects significant declines in inflation this year, remarks that echoed what he said after a policy-setting meeting last week that many in the market thought the Fed chair would walk back.

Powell's remarks at the Economic Club of Washington fed investor hopes for an easing of monetary tightening even as he reiterated getting inflation back to the Fed's 2% target will take time and will not be painless.

"He seems to reiterate that fact that in his view inflation is cresting," said Rick Meckler, a partner of Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

"That's been the biggest fear for participants in the market: That with all the rate increases, that in the Fed's view no real progress is being made against inflation. And he's saying 'no, it's having its effect.'"

Futures showed the Fed's overnight lending rate peaking at 5.12% in the summer and later declining to 4.785% by December on expectations of Fed rate cuts as the economy cools.

MSCI's gauge of stock performance in 47 countries rose 0.95%, while earlier in Europe the broad STOXX 600 index closed up 0.23%, helped by some upbeat earnings reports.

The Treasury curve, a recession harbinger when yields on two-year notes are higher than 10-year notes remained inverted at -79.2 basis points.

"The stock market is overvalued," said Phil Orlando, the chief equity strategist of Federated Hermes in New York, citing a slowing economy, rising corporate costs and lower profit margins.

"The Street hasn't quite figured that out in terms of what the implication is for the full year," Orlando said. "You have the sword of Damocles hanging over the market's head during a period seasonally where the market tends to struggle anyway."

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.78%, the S&P 500 gained 1.29%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.9%.

In the bond markets, benchmark government bond yields crept higher, with the 10-year German Bund trading at 2.361%, compared with less than 2% three weeks ago, and the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was at 3.687%.

The dollar index fell 0.21% from one-month highs, while the yen gained 1.21% to 131.08 per dollar after unusually strong Japanese wage data.

The Australian dollar bolted 1.02% higher after its central bank reiterated further increases would be needed.

Asian stocks stabilised overnight after they, like most global share markets, suffered steep losses following the US jobs data.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ended up 0.2%, but Australia's S&P/ASX200 slipped nearly 0.5%, after the Reserve Bank of Australia delivered its ninth consecutive rate hike. Australia's cash rate now stands at 3.35%, a decade high.

Another major move in markets was oil's jump for a second straight session on optimism about recovering demand from China and supply concerns following the shutdown of a major export terminal after a major earthquake in Türkiye.

Oil prices climbed more than 3% after Powell eased market concerns over rate hikes, while recovering demand in China also boosted prices.

US crude futures rose US$3.03 to settle at US$77.14 a barrel, while Brent settled up US$2.70 at US$83.69.

Gold eked out gains, tracking a slight pullback in the dollar, as investors mulled comments by Powell and the outlook for the Fed's rate-hike policy.

US gold futures settled up 0.3% at US$1,884.80 an ounce.