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Fed inflation signals spur Wall Street turnaround

May 24 2018 08:11

New York - Wall Street swung to a positive finish on Wednesday, with stocks boosted by Federal Reserve minutes which said the central bank may be willing to let inflation run slightly higher.

That reversed direction late in the trading day, running counter to what had been a global selloff on persistent geopolitical and trade war fears.

President Donald Trump had said on Tuesday he was dissatisfied with trade talks with China and also cast doubt that a June summit with North Korea would go ahead.

Equities were also dented on Wednesday by poor Eurozone economic data, and as doubts persisted on the planned summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

All three major Wall Street indices finished higher, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way with a 0.6% gain.

But embattled engineering giant General Electric weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, however, tumbling 7.3% to its worst day in nearly a decade after CEO John Flannery reportedly forecast no growth in GE's power business and left investors with doubts about the company's current dividend.

Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors told AFP the Fed minutes gave markets a little bit of certainty about the path of monetary policy.

"There is often a relief when this report is behind you," she said. "Most people recognize now that we will probably get three more rate hikes this year and probably you get uncertainty out of the way."

Euro, pound tumble

On the currency front, while the US dollar rallied to its highest level in six months against the euro, the European single currency, the pound and the embattled Turkish lira all tumbled, with political turbulence in Italy triggering a huge sell-off of assets there, according to Fawad Razaqzada of Forex.com.

Charles Schwab analysts said, "Italian political uneasiness is also prevailing as the markets grapple with the populist coalition government's choice for prime minister and potential fiscal implications of its policy proposals."

Adding to nerves, a key survey showed on Wednesday that the pace of growth of Eurozone business activity continued to slow in May, as companies became less optimistic about the state of the economy in Europe.

Data monitoring company IHS Markit also flagged strong slowdowns in France and Germany, though employment growth in the 19-country single currency bloc remained robust.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) by IHS Markit fell to 54.1 in May, which was lower than forecast by analysts. A figure over 50 indicates the economy is expanding.

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wall street  |  markets  |  equiities  |  currencies


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