The euro hit a one-year high against the dollar on Wednesday and the British pound rallied on bets that Europe’s and Britain’s central banks are preparing to scale back economic stimulus, while bank stocks led a rebound on Wall Street. The dollar index slid as Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said a debate on the need to raise interest rates is due “in the coming months,” adding to a hawkish tone out of the European Central Bank on Tuesday. Carney’s remarks convinced traders that European monetary policy was shifting in a more hawkish direction, analysts said. The monetary policy comments out of Europe and Britain come as the U.S. Senate delayed a healthcare legislation vote, a move seen as pushing back the timeline for other items of President Donald Trump’s agenda including a tax overhaul regarded as essential to support lofty stock valuations on Wall Street.
“Prospects for infrastructure spending and tax reform are fading by the minute” after the delayed healthcare vote, said Karl Schamotta, director of global product and market strategy at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto. U.S. economic data released on Wednesday showed contracts to buy previously owned homes unexpectedly fell in May, the third straight monthly decline, while mortgage applications fell the most in six months last week.
U.S. stocks recovered most of their broad losses from the previous session, however. Bank stocks led the way, supported by a steeper Treasury yield curve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 156.59 points, or 0.73 percent, to 21,467.25, the S&P 500 gained 22.64 points, or 0.94 percent, to 2,442.02 and the Nasdaq Composite added 86.74 points, or 1.41 percent, to 6,233.37. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.04 percent with gains in bank shares limiting the loss, while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.67 percent.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.31 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.17 percent lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.47 percent. Analysts said comments by ECB President Mario Draghi on Tuesday, seen as hawkish, continued to support the euro even as sources said on Wednesday that he had intended to signal tolerance for a period of weaker inflation, not imminent policy tightening.
“There is a bigger story here that has to do with the repricing in general of monetary policy expectations,” said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at Credit Suisse in New York. “There is a bit of a concern in the markets about the fact that the balance of monetary policy expectations is moving a little bit in a more hawkish direction in Europe, and you’ve seen that with the BOE, you’ve seen that with the ECB.”
The dollar index fell 0.38 percent, with the euro up 0.36 percent to $1.1378. Sterling rallied against the greenback off of Carney’s comments and was the last trading at $1.2927, up 0.88 percent on the day.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.10 percent versus the greenback at 112.27 per dollar. Oil futures climbed to their highest in more than a week despite a surprise build in U.S. crude inventories, as buyers were encouraged by a small weekly decrease in U.S. production. U.S. crude rose 1.11 percent to $44.73 per barrel and Brent was last at $47.54, up 1.32 percent on the day. The back end of the U.S. Treasury yield curve rose after Carney’s comments.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were down fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.2191 percent, from 2.198 percent late on Tuesday. The 30-year bond last fell 21/32 in price to yield 2.7743 percent, from 2.744 percent on Tuesday. Spot gold added 0.2 percent to $1,249.43 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.23 percent to $1,249.80 an ounce. Copper rose 0.36 percent to $5,879.00 a tonne.