Global Shares Remain Lower, Dollar Up After Fed Minutes

NEW YORK (Reuters) —
The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C.
The Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C.

Global equity markets remained slightly lower and the dollar a bit higher on Wednesday after minutes from a meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers last month indicated raising U.S. interest rates was warranted if the economy continued to strengthen.

Market reaction was muted as there was little revelatory in the minutes from the Sept. 20-21 meeting, with policymakers divided on how much longer they should allow the labor market and inflation to improve before lifting rates.

Oil prices fell more than 1 percent after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries reported its output hit an eight-year high in September, offsetting optimism over the group’s pledge to bring a global crude glut under control.

Sterling rebounded from a brutal selloff since last week as British Prime Minister Theresa May’s offer to give U.K. lawmakers a say in plans to leave the European Union calmed fears of a “hard Brexit” marking a clear break from the single market.

U.S. equity markets rose before the release of the Federal Open Market Committee’s minutes, while European markets and an index of global equity performance traded lower.

“We remain where we were: a market still betting Chair Yellen wants a hike in December,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39.86 points, or 0.22 percent, to 18,168.52. The S&P 500 gained 5.41 points, or 0.25 percent, to 2,142.14 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.78 points, or 0.01 percent, to 5,247.57.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional companies closed down 0.45 percent to 1,336.17. MSCI’s all-country world equity index fell 0.21 percent.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major trading currencies, hit a seven-month high at 98.043 ahead of the FOMC minutes.

“A December increase is still likely, perhaps for no better reason than to save face for the FOMC members,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at EverBank.

However, Gaffney said that recent economic data does not indicate the case for raising rates has strengthened.

The euro hit an 11-week low of $1.1005 in early U.S. trading, and was last down 0.35 percent at $1.1014. The dollar was last up 0.71 percent against the yen at 104.23 yen.

U.S. Treasury yields rose to their highest levels in four months, with prices pressured by two auctions and growing expectations of a Fed rate hike this year.

Yields on shorter-dated maturities, such as 2-year notes, which are more sensitive to Fed policy expectations, rose to their highest since early June ahead of the Fed minutes. Two-year notes fell 1/32 in price to yield 0.8826 percent.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were last down 6/32 in price to yield 1.7798 percent, with yields earlier rising above 1.80 percent for the first time since June 3.

Brent crude fell 60 cents to settle at $51.81 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 61 cents to settle at $50.18 a barrel.

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