Equities edge up, dollar falls amid upcoming Fed speech

Equities edge higher, dollar falls amid US budget framework bill passage, upcoming Fed speech

The dollar index, which measures the US currency against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.081% to 92.834

US Federal Reserve. Credit: Reuters file photo

Global equity markets rose and the US dollar slipped on Wednesday, with investors more optimistic a day after the House of Representatives passed the $3.5 trillion budget framework and a top health official expressed confidence in fighting Covid-19.

On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled House voted to advance the framework, key to President Joe Biden's agenda. Investor confidence in the economic outlook also got a boost when Dr. Anthony Fauci, top US infectious disease expert, said Covid-19 could be under control by early next year.

The United States is still battling another wave of cases due to the highly contagious Delta variant, with the average number of Covid deaths reaching 1,000 a day and over 150,000 new cases, according to a Reuters tally.

Investors remained focused on what US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell might say on Friday about tapering the central bank's bond-buying program when he speaks at the Jackson Hole symposium.

The dollar index, which measures the US currency against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.081% to 92.834.

"Part of the risk-on move that began on Monday with FDA approval of vaccines has continued," said Michael Ashley Schulman, chief investment officer at Running Point Capital.

"Some investors feel we're reaching the peak of the Covid wave, thus reopening and economic growth will continue."

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 50 countries, rose 0.23%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.01%. Overnight in Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rallied 2.41%.

US Treasury yields rose to the highest in almost two weeks ahead of Powell's speech. Algorithmic traders also sold Treasuries after the 10-year yields broke above their 200-day moving average.

Benchmark 10-year yields rose 2-1/2 basis points to 1.339%. On Wall Street, all major indexes traded higher, led by financials, industrials, communications and the consumer discretionary sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% to 35,435.36, the S&P 500 gained 0.27% to 4,498.41 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.2% to 15,049.68.

"Bond yields are rising and the reopening trade is on full blast, banks and other cyclicals are doing well. Tech is taking a back seat," said Thomas Hayes, managing member at Great Hill Capital.

Oil prices rose more than 1% on Wednesday, extending gains for a third session, after US government data showed fuel demand climbed to its highest since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Brent crude rose 1.7% to settle at $72.25 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 1.2% to settle at $68.36 a barrel.

Gold slid over 1%, retreating further below the $1,800 level as investors awaited the Jackson Hole symposium.

Spot gold slipped 0.6% to $1,792.06 per ounce. Bullion had rallied 1.4% on Monday to the highest in nearly three weeks, driven by a broad retreat in the dollar.

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