LONDON, April 3 — Global stocks eased today in the face of rising bond yields, as investors assessed how much US rates might fall this year, while a powerful earthquake in Taiwan raised concerns about possible disruptions to the vital chip-making industry.

A string of robust US data, coupled with a rise in the oil price to its highest in five months, prompted traders to lower their expectations for three interest-rate cuts from the Federal Reserve this year.

Government bonds were sold heavily, pushing yields on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note to five-month highs, while equities stepped back from record peaks.

The MSCI All-World index fell 0.1 per cent in its third consecutive daily drop, while European equities traded modestly in negative territory. US futures fell 0.2-0.3 per cent ahead of an appearance from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and US services and jobs figures later on.


"Today, we’ll hear from Fed Chair Powell who’s giving a speech on the economic outlook, so the focus will be on whether he offers any new commentary about the timing of potential rate cuts," Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said.

"We’ve also got the ISM services index today, along with the jobs report on Friday, so there’s still plenty of data this week that will shape the market narrative."

In Asia, shares in Taiwan skidded 0.5 per cent after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the island, collapsing buildings, killing at least four people and injuring dozens.


Chipmaker TSMC's shares fell 0.9 per cent after it said some facilities were evacuated following the quake. Taiwan makes up about 90 per cent of TSMC's production.

A recent run of solid US economic data - including an unexpected expansion in the manufacturing sector and slow easing in the labour market - has cast doubt on how much the Fed might cut rates this year and next.

A pair of Fed policymakers on Tuesday both said they think it would be "reasonable" to cut US interest rates three times this year, but markets are only pricing in about 69 basis points in easing.

"At this last meeting, they still indicate three times, but these movements tend to have some momentum. As they start to shift, you find that they will probably shift again next meeting and then by next meeting, they probably will be indicating that they're going to cut only twice," said Andrew Lilley, chief rates strategist at Barrenjoey in Sydney.

"And there's a very high chance of one in three that they don't ease at all."

The benchmark 10-year yield edged up 1 basis point on the day to 4.377 per cent, after hitting a four-month high of 4.405 per cent overnight.

Investors now await euro zone inflation data, which could undershoot expectations, after German inflation eased more than expected.

Meanwhile, the dollar got a modest boost from higher Treasury yields. The yen was jittery at 151.72 per dollar, just a whisker away from the 152 level that prompted Japanese monetary authorities to intervene in late 2022.

Oil held near five-month highs, driven by concern about tighter supplies ahead of an Opec+ meeting, where the group is unlikely to change output policy.

Brent rose 0.25 per cent to US$89.14 a barrel, while US crude gained 0.15 per cent to trade at US$85.28.

Gold took a breather from its record rally on Wednesday, edging down 0.3 per cent US$2,274 an ounce, having hit an all-time high of US$2,288.09 earlier in the session. — Reuters