Stocks rise on firm rate-cut expectations  



A broad index of stocks around the world edged higher on Thursday as comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell bolstered expectations for an interest-rate cut, though concerns about global trade tensions capped gains. On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index ticked upward as technology shares rose, though it momentarily pared some gains after US President Donald Trump said on Twitter that China was not living up to promises it made on buying U.S. agricultural products. Trade jitters also stymied European stocks. The STOXX 600 fell 0.09% as warnings from small-cap auto and industrial suppliers pushed down shares of car parts companies Valeo and Continental. MSCI’s gauge of global stocks rose 0.26%, however, boosted by the advance in US shares and earlier gains in Asian stocks.

US shares touched record highs after Powell, in his first day of testimony before Congress on Wednesday, confirmed the US economy was still under threat from disappointing factory activity, tame inflation and a simmering trade war and said the Fed stood ready to “act as appropriate. Powell was testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. The enthusiasm, however, was somewhat tempered by trade tensions and their effect on corporate results as the earnings season kicks off.

The market’s focus has shifted just a bit as we go into earnings season, said Matt Forester, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon’s Lockwood Advisors. Any disappointment could be met with pressure on stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 198.22 points, or 0.74%, to 27,058.42, the S&P 500 gained 7.38 points, or 0.25%, to 3,000.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.32 points, or 0.16%, to 8,215.85. US Treasury yields rose marginally following data showing the biggest gain in U.S. underlying consumer prices in 1-1/2 years. The data, however, did not change expectations for an rate cut from the Fed.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last fell 8/32 in price to yield 2.089%, from 2.061% late on Wednesday. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, edged lower on the Fed rate-cut prospects. It slipped 0.12% to extend losses for a second session after having reached a three-week peak on Tuesday.

The Japanese yen rose 0.16% against the dollar. The euro edged up 0.07% to $1.1257.

In commodities, US crude oil futures climbed to a six-week high as oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuated before a storm, while an incident with a British tanker in the Middle East highlighted ongoing tensions in the region. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 18 cents to $60.61 a barrel. Brent crude futures, however, fell 3 cents to $66.98 a barrel.

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