LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday while world equities steadied below recent record peaks as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting for signs of a hawkish turn in U.S. monetary policy.
Investors have been nervous about riskier assets ahead of the release of the June policy minutes, which will likely show how serious members are about tapering their asset buying and how early rate hikes could begin.
“If the minutes are really pushing towards tapering, we are going to see gold rise, the dollar rise and equities fall,” said Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM.
The MSCI world stocks index was little changed at 723.52, after hitting a record high of 726.11 early on Tuesday.
S&P 500 futures gained 0.18% after the index dropped 0.20% overnight.
Wall Street had been unsettled by a survey on Tuesday showing a slight cooling in the red-hot U.S. services sector, though at 60.1 the ISM index was still historically high.
European stocks gained 0.52% after a weak session on Tuesday. German stocks rose 0.83% and Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.5%.
Expectations of a hawkish Fed tone helped the dollar rally against a basket of currencies to 92.541, up from a low of 92.003 on Tuesday and moving towards recent three-month highs.
“The markets are looking for some clarity but we are not holding our breath,” said Ned Rumpeltin, European head of currency strategy at TD Securities. “Strategic ambiguity on the Fed’s part is probably where they are best served.”
The euro steadied at $1.1819, near its lowest in three months, after data on Tuesday showed investor sentiment in Germany fell by much more than expected in July.
German industry output fell 0.3% month-on-month in May, below analysts’ expectations, data on Wednesday showed.
“Slowing economic momentum in Germany and the euro zone would point towards the ECB considering a tapering of its asset purchasing programme as part of PEPP (Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme) at an even later stage than expected, in particular against the background of the spreading Delta variant,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.
The dollar rose 0.13% to 110.74 against the yen.
Yields on U.S. 10-year notes dropped to a new 4-1/2 month low, falling 4 basis points to 1.33% on Wednesday after tumbling eight basis points on Tuesday in their biggest one-day slide since February. Yields recouped some ground to 1.3480%.
Germany’s 30-year bond yield hit its lowest since March at 0.205%.
Analysts said various factors – such as Chinese regulation headlines, the spread of the Delta COVID-19 variant and the weak U.S. services data – had driven the risk aversion.
In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.12% after hitting six-week lows, while Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.96%.
Hong Kong stocks hit near six-month lows and were down 0.4%.
Bucking the trend, Australian stocks rose 0.9% and Chinese blue chips added 1.1%.
Oil rose to $75 a barrel with support coming from a tight market, after a steep drop from multi-year highs in the previous session amid uncertainty about OPEC+ supply policy. [O/R]
Brent crude was up 1.5% at $75.67 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained 1.6% to $74.55.
Gold was up 0.58% at $1,806.60 an ounce.
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