Business World

Thursday 22 March 2018

New quarter kicks off with early gains

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York


US and European shares kicked off the new quarter with gains yesterday as talk of interest-rate increases boosted bank stocks.

Meanwhile, the dollar edged up from nine-month lows as US Treasury yields hit their highest point since mid-May.

Oil prices resumed their longest stretch of daily gains in more than five years after data pointed to moderating US crude output, though analysts said news of rising Opec production could cap the rally.

The S&P 500 index rose after notching its strongest first half-year performance since 2013, with the energy sector leading the pack in percentage gains. US stock trading volume was expected to be light, with an early close at 1pm ahead of today's Independence Day holiday, when the market is shut.

Investors were getting used to the idea that central banks, including the European Central Bank, could move away from stimulus measures, such as massive bond purchases and ultra-low interest rates. "It's a bit of a relief from last week. There was a bit of a scare from people who felt central banks around the world are more hawkish," said Nathan Thooft, senior managing director at Manulife Asset Management in Boston.

In the US at the end of the morning trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 158.21 points, or 0.74pc, to 21,507.84, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite also gained.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 1pc and on track for its biggest one-day percentage rise since April, helping reverse its biggest weekly loss since November. For June, it had its steepest monthly loss in a year. In Dublin, the ISEQ closed up 6.66 points yesterday at 6,827.62, well below recent highs.

AIB shares threatened, but ultimately failed, to breach the €5 mark.

Irish Independent

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