LONDON, Nov 21 — Global stock markets mostly fell today as investors awaited minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting for a steer on interest rates in the world’s biggest economy.
The Fed will later publish minutes from its November gathering, when policymakers held rates, and investors will analyse comments from officials.
Investors are becoming increasingly optimistic that the US central bank is finished hiking rates, with expectations growing that financial conditions will become easier in the new year as inflation comes down.
That has fanned a rush back into risk assets in recent weeks and also pushed the dollar down against its peers.
“Traders will scrutinise the minutes closely, hoping to find clues for the timing of the next Fed move, which is now widely assumed to be a cut,” said ActivTrades senior analyst Ricardo Evangelista.
“Against this background, dovish minutes could bring forward the market’s expectations for when the Fed will begin cutting rates and trigger further dollar weakness.”
A drop in yields on US government bonds is a clear indication that the markets believe the Fed is done with rate hikes despite public comments by policymakers that work remains to be done to reduce inflation, said market analyst Patrick O’Hare at Briefing.com.
“It is unmistakable that the fed funds futures market has its mind made up, no matter what anyone says, that the Fed is done raising rates,” he said.
Weak results from US retailers Best Buy and Lowe’s ahead of the peak-demand Christmas shopping season were an indication that the Fed’s efforts to slow the economy and inflation were working.
New York’s three main indices opened lower a day after the Nasdaq hitting a 22-month high thanks to an advance in tech giants including Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia.
Shares in Nvidia, which reports earnings after the market closes, dipped at the start of trading.
Yesterday’s rally was boosted by the successful sale of 20-year US Treasuries that sent yields on other notes lower. Talk is now growing that the Fed could cut borrowing costs as early as March, much earlier than previous bets on the second half of 2024.
In Europe, London and Paris both retreated somewhat while Frankfurt edged upwards.
Asian markets started today on the front foot but ran out of gas as the day progressed.
Hong Kong dipped even after market heavyweight Alibaba jumped more than two per cent to extend its rebound after diving 10 per cent Friday on news it had cancelled the spinoff of its cloud computing arm.
World oil prices slid as traders awaited this Sunday’s upcoming output meeting of Opec+ crude-producing nations.
“The main question the market is asking is whether Opec will cut production further in response to softening oil prices,” noted Economist Intelligence Unit analyst Matt Sherwood.
“These have returned to the levels they were at before the Israel-Hamas war broke out in early October.” — AFP