Tuesday 20 March 2018

US pares gains as Yellen eyes rate hike

US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen


US stocks pared some of their gains yesterday after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen painted a mostly positive picture of the economy and said interest rate rises were still on their way, but was less specific on the timing.

Ms Yellen said "positive economic forces have outweighed the negative", but was more vague in her references to the timing of a rate hike than she had been in early May when she said the Fed could move "in coming months".

Her remarks, the last public comment from any US central banker before a policy meeting next week, comes after last Friday's dismal monthly jobs report raised concerns over the ability of the economy to absorb a rate hike as early as June.

The Fed chief called the jobs report "disappointing", but said "one should not attach too much significance to a single report".

"Yellen's speech tells me that the Fed is going to follow through with what all the Fed governors have been saying in the past six weeks," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Despite paring some gains, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were on course for their highest one-day percentage gains since May 27. The Dow was set for its best day since May 25, the last time it ended up more than triple digits in terms of points.

European stocks also rose yesterday, as gains in the shares of major mining and oil companies propped up the region's markets, which had fallen at the end of last week.

Mining stocks such as Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton rose around 4pc as the price of copper climbed to its highest level in around four weeks. Oil majors also rose as oil prices advanced.

Irish Independent

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