Global equities edge down, bond yields up with Fed in focus

By Sinéad Carew and Tom Wilson

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -MSCI’s global equities index bumped around in a narrow range while edging lower on Tuesday while U.S. Treasury yields rose after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said more good data would strengthen the case for rate cuts but gave no hints on the timing for easing.

Wall Street’s two biggest indexes managed small advances, adding to their streak of record closing highs, but still ended the day closer to session lows than session highs.

Powell appeared to show increasing faith that inflation would return to the Fed’s target and pointed to risks to the job market and the economy if interest rates stay too high for too long, but said he was not sending a signal on timing on day one of his two-day testimony in Congress.

“He’s beginning to tee up a rate cut. The question is exactly when. That’s something he’s not going to be able to answer. He says we need more data but we don’t know how much more,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

While Jacobsen was not expecting any big changes from Powell, the comments may have been “a slight disappointment for people who were hoping he’d give greater clarity” about how much more data the Fed needs for confidence to cut rates, he said.

Traders are now baking in a roughly 70% probability that the Fed’s first rate cut would come in September, down slightly from 71% on Monday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 52.82 points, or 0.13%, to 39,291.97, the S&P 500 gained 4.13 points, or 0.07%, to 5,576.98 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 25.55 points, or 0.14%, to 18,429.29.

The benchmark S&P 500 registered its fifth record-high close in a row, while the advance of the tech-heavy Nasdaq’ on Tuesday represented its sixth straight record close.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe fell 0.31 point, or 0.04%, to 817.83 and Europe’s STOXX 600 index earlier closed down 0.9%.

Also on Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told U.S. lawmakers that rent and housing costs are keeping U.S. inflation higher than preferred but that consumer prices will continue to come down over time as factors including supply issues and labor market tightness have eased.

With borrowing costs in mind, investors were in wait-and-see mode ahead of Thursday’s consumer price report, as they hope for easing inflation to put the Fed in a better position to cut rates. Headline inflation for June is expected to slow to 3.1%, from 3.3% in May, with core inflation seen steady at 3.4%.

After four straight days of declines, benchmark 10-year Treasury yields inched higher on Tuesday with help from Powell’s more cautious tone while longer and shorter-dated bond yields also gained.

“The market was looking for Powell to be a little more dovish given the recent run of data that has been on the softer side. He was a little less so,” said Thomas Urano, co-chief investment officer and managing director at Sage Advisory in Austin, Texas.

The yield on benchmark U.S. 10-year notes rose 2.9 basis points to 4.298%, from 4.269% late on Monday while the 30-year bond yield rose 3.2 basis points to 4.49%.

The 2-year note yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, rose 0.8 basis point to 4.6264%, from 4.618% late on Monday.

In currencies, the dollar gained as Powell did not give a clear signal the U.S. central bank is close to cutting rates even as he acknowledged progress in inflation.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies including the yen and the euro, rose 0.13% to 105.11, while the euro was down 0.07% at $1.0814.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar strengthened 0.29% to 161.28.

Oil prices slipped on Tuesday after a hurricane that hit a key U.S. oil-producing hub in Texas caused less damage than markets had feared, easing concerns over supply disruption.

U.S. crude settled down 1.12% or 92 cents at $81.41 a barrel and Brent finished at $84.66 per barrel, down 1.27% or $1.09 on the day.

Gold prices were choppy with spot gold adding 0.22% to trade at $2,364.08 an ounce after earlier falling.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin gained 2.92% at $57,901.01.

(Reporting by Sinéad Carew, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Karen Brettell, Caroline Valetkevitch in New York, Tom Wilson in London, Stella Qiu in SydneyEditing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)


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