Euro Jumps, Bonds Slip After Yellen, Draghi Speak

NEW YORK (Reuters) —
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

The euro jumped more than 1 percent and yields on benchmark U.S. government debt remained at unattractive rates on Friday after the world’s two leading central bankers declined to discuss monetary policy in keynote speeches.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s non-policy remarks at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, pushed U.S. Treasury debt yields lower and increased chances that the U.S. central bank will not raise interest rates in December as had been widely anticipated.

The euro, meanwhile, jumped more than 1 percent after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, speaking after Yellen, did not talk down the euro zone single currency’s strength as some investors had speculated.

Yellen told bankers that regulatory reforms enacted after the financial crisis a decade ago have strengthened the banking system without impeding economic growth.

Draghi said global trade and cooperation is under threat, a risk to productivity and ultimately growth in advanced economies.

Investors had to pay attention to Yellen’s speech, but she didn’t discuss monetary policy, said Marc Chandler, chief global currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

“There was a risk that Yellen would’ve said something,” Chandler said.

Draghi’s speech drew similar comments.

“People were wondering whether he would push back against the euro strength or lean against it and he didn’t,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at SunTrust Advisory Services Inc. in Atlanta.

The dollar index fell 0.78 percent and the euro gained 1.03 percent to $1.1919. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.23 percent versus the greenback at 109.30.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price, pushing the yield down to 2.1711 percent.

JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago, said with the 10-year note returning less than 2.2 percent, investors are drawn to stocks.

“You are starting to see stocks hang in there only because everybody is searching for yield,” Kinahan said.

Rates futures implied traders saw a 37.2 percent chance of a rate hike at the Fed’s December meeting, down from almost 39 percent on Thursday, CME Group’s FedWatch tool showed.

MSCI’s index of stocks across the globe rose 0.26 percent and its index of emerging market stocks rose 0.27 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 30.27 points, or 0.14 percent, to 21,813.67. The S&P 500 gained 4.08 points, or 0.17 percent, to 2,443.05 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 5.68 points, or 0.09 percent, to 6,265.64.

European share markets closed lower. The pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 index slid 0.14 percent as Dutch supermarket operator Ahold fell 6.1 percent after Amazon said it will cut prices when its acquisition of Whole Foods Market is completed on Monday.

Ahold has a strong presence on the U.S. east coast.

Investor concerns about a looming deadline in late September to raise the U.S. debt ceiling were alleviated after U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that after talks with congressional leaders from both parties, everyone is “on the same page.”

Oil prices rose as the dollar fell and as the U.S. petroleum industry braced for Hurricane Harvey.

U.S. crude rose 44 cents to settle at $47.87 per barrel and Brent settled 37 cents higher at $52.41.

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