Global equities edge up as rising bond yield fears ease

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of global equity markets edged up as U.S. Treasury yields jumped on Wednesday on fears a robust recovery will drive inflation higher, but reassurances from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to the contrary calmed market jitters.

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, February 23, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes increased more than expected in January as the median sale price rose 5.3% year-over-year, the latest data point to show certain consumer prices rising faster than expected.

Crude oil rose to fresh 13-month highs while gold prices fell, as surging Treasury yields and a firmer dollar dented demand for the safe-haven metal.

MSCI’s all-country world index, a gauge of equity markets in 49 countries, added 0.07%, as rising stocks on Wall Street pushed the global benchmark to reverse losses.

The rapid roll-out of vaccines, such as news that Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine appeared safe and effective, is boosting economic optimism but also inflation concerns, said Patrick Leary, chief market strategist and senior trader at Incapital in Minneapolis.

“If you look at commodity prices, you look at real estate prices and you look at energy prices, they’re up significantly higher than even pre-pandemic levels,” he said.

While rising rates give stock investors pause, the Fed is “pretty comfortable” with rising yields as they take some of the froth out of the financial system, Leary said.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield rose 0.8 basis points to 1.3739% after hitting 1.435% earlier. The benchmark Treasury yield traded at 0.912% at the end of 2020.

The slipping of 10-year Treasury yields below the 1.4% mark helped equity market rebound from early losses and push higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.92%, the S&P 500 gained 0.79% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.61%.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.4% at 1,590.09 after earlier trading lower on inflation fears.

A sharp rise in real bond yields in line with those seen during previous “bond tantrum episodes” would reduce the upside potential for European equities, BofA Global Research said.

Sectors set to benefit from a stronger economy were supported by German GDP data, as exports and solid construction activity helped Europe’s biggest economy to grow by a better-than-expected 0.3% in the fourth quarter.

Germany’s DAX rose 0.8%.

Falling tech stocks, which are sensitive to rising yields, pulled Asian markets lower overnight.

Bitcoin recovered somewhat, up 3.3% at around $50,481. .

Investors have generally been upbeat about the prospect of vaccine rollouts, lockdowns ending and economies re-opening.

The dollar index rose 0.083%, with the euro down 0.05% to $1.2143. The Japanese yen weakened 0.63% versus the greenback to 105.89 per dollar.

Brent crude futures rose $1.77 to $67.14 a barrel. U.S. crude futures gained $1.58 to $63.25 a barrel.

The benchmark 10-year German Bund was steady.

Elsewhere, oil prices rose, although a surprise build-up in U.S. inventories last week limited the gains.

Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures have both risen by around 28% so far in 2021.

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