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Markets

Stocks Climb on Powell’s Reassurance; Dollar Falls: Markets Wrap

Updated on
  • Fed chief says central bank has tools to curb high inflation
  • Uneven global vaccination rollout is recovery risk: Powell
Bond Traders Pare Back Fed Rate-Hike Expectations

Stocks climbed as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank has the tools to curb any inflation pressures, which are expected to be temporary as the economy reopens.

The S&P 500 notched a fresh record amid slow trading. Volume on U.S. exchanges remained under 10 billion shares, hitting another low for the year. The Nasdaq 100 outperformed major equity benchmarks as giants such as Apple Inc. and Tesla Inc. rallied. Energy producers and banks retreated. Treasuries rose, while the dollar fell.

One day after the Fed’s March minutes struck a dovish tone for the path of monetary policy, Powell said the central bank would react if inflation expectations started “moving persistently and materially” above levels officials are comfortable with. He also noted that disparate efforts to vaccinate people globally is a risk to progress for the economic rebound, which remains “uneven and incomplete.”

“The doves are in control, and today’s cautious comments from Fed Chair Powell delivered another reiteration of their ultra-accommodative stance,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda in New York.

Volume drops again as S&P 500 hits record

Meanwhile, Fed Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said it’s too soon for central bankers to discuss tapering asset purchases as long as the pandemic continues. Data Thursday showed applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance unexpectedly rose for a second week, underscoring the choppy nature of the labor-market recovery.

Some key events to watch this week:

  • China’s consumer and producer prices data are due Friday.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 rose 0.4% at 4 p.m. New York time.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.6%.
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.3%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slid 0.3%.
  • The euro advanced 0.4% to $1.1917.
  • The Japanese yen appreciated 0.5% to 109.27 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on two-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 0.15%.
  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries slid five basis points to 1.62%.
  • The yield on 30-year Treasuries fell five basis points to 2.31%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude settled at $59.60 a barrel.
  • Gold strengthened 1.1% to $1,756.68 an ounce.

— With assistance by Joanna Ossinger, Andreea Papuc, Robert Brand, Claire Ballentine, and Lu Wang