The dollar rose and Treasury yields jumped on Wednesday ahead of a two-day speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, which could confirm the US central bank’s aggressive policy to curb inflation or signal a “pivot” to modest interest rate hikes.
U.S. and European stocks rose in choppy trading as investors tried to gauge whether the Fed would be more likely to slow rate hikes or remain aggressive until it reduces inflation to its 2% target.
German and US 10-year bond yields rose to eight-week highs.
British short-term government bond yields hit a 14-year high. The rise in energy prices in Europe caused fears of increased inflation in Germany and Britain.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note climbed further above 3% to hit 3.126%, suggesting that the rally in stocks may be short-lived for some.
Germany’s 10-year Bund rose to 1.388%, while two-year British gilts reached 2.955%.
“When the 10-year rises above 3%, all of a sudden stocks get tougher. We saw it in May, we saw it in June, now we’re seeing it again,” said Anthony Saglimbene, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Michigan.
“It’s going to be a drag as long as the 10-year is above 3%,” he said of benchmark Treasuries.
In recent days, bets on how much the Fed will raise rates at its September policy meeting have ranged from 50 to 75 basis points.
Last month, traders in federal funds futures estimated a 60.5% chance that the Fed would raise rates by 75 basis points next month, and a 39.5% chance of a 50 basis point increase.
“The market is oscillating between this ultra, ultra hawkish view and this ultra, ultra dovish view” of a banking symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday, Saglimbene said. “It’s going to be somewhere in the middle.”
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.18%, the S&P 500 gained 0.29% and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.41%.
All 11 S&P 500 sectors rose, as did small-cap stocks.
In Europe, the pan-regional STOXX 600 rose 0.16%, while MSCI’s global benchmark was little changed, up 0.02%.
The euro fell to a two-decade low before rising 0.05% to $0.9972.
The dollar index rose by 0.037%.
For portfolio managers waiting for Powell’s comment, the rest is just speculation, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.
“The (funds) market is only trading on sentiment and the fact that we are overbought and that we should have pulled back,” he said. “We’re bouncing back a bit now, positioning the Fed chairman’s comments in Jackson Hole.”
Economic data showed that new orders for US-made capital goods rose in July, but the pace slowed from June, suggesting that business spending on equipment may struggle to recover from a fall in the second quarter.
Orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, a closely watched gauge of business spending plans, rose 0.4% last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. These so-called core orders for capital goods rose 0.9% in June.
Oil prices rose in choppy trading on concerns that the United States would not consider further concessions to Iran in response to a draft deal that would restore Tehran’s nuclear deal and potentially restore crude oil exports to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The benchmark Brent crude fell after rising above $100 a barrel.
Saudi Arabia has suggested that OPEC and its allies may consider output cuts, although bearish economic signals from central bank governors are having an impact.
US crude futures rose $1.15 to $94.89 a barrel, while Brent rose $1.00 to $101.22.
US gold futures were unchanged at $1,761.50 an ounce.