Recovery hopes drive shares, U.S. Treasury yields

FILE PHOTO: A street sign, Wall Street, is seen outside New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York

By Matt Scuffham

NEW YORK (Reuters) – World share indices extended gains and Treasury yields rose on Thursday, after strong U.S. economic data and the Federal Reserve’s commitment to continue supporting the economy fueled confidence in a recovery.

U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fueled by massive government aid to households and businesses, charting the course for what is expected will be the strongest annual performance in nearly four decades.

“Assuming that COVID variants remain contained, the second quarter is set for a further acceleration in growth as the re-openings continue,” said Katherine Judge, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets.

New York City aims to “fully reopen” on July 1 after more than a year of closures and capacity restrictions, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. [L1N2MM1HG]

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.33%, closing at an all-time high and remaining on course for its best month since November.

The S&P 500 also closed at a record high. The Nasdaq Composite hit a record intraday high before paring some gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 239.98 points, or 0.71%, to 34,060.36, the S&P 500 gained 28.29 points, or 0.68%, to 4,211.47 and the Nasdaq Composite added 31.52 points, or 0.22%, to 14,082.55.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last fell 4/32 in price to yield 1.6343%, from 1.62% late on Wednesday.

“The economy is going to run hot these next couple of months and the bond market sell-off will return and could make Treasury yields attempt to test the end of March highs,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York.

The dollar stayed just off nine-week lows as the Fed’s dovish outlook and bold spending plans from the White House furthered expectations that inflation will rise.

The dollar index rose 0.085%, with the euro up 0.03% to $1.2127.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday that “it is not time yet” to begin discussing any change in policy after the U.S. central bank left interest rates and its bond-buying program unchanged, despite taking a more optimistic view of the country’s economic recovery.

Later on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a sweeping new $1.8 trillion spending plan in a speech to a joint session of Congress.

The Fed’s stance, strong U.S. corporate earnings and the notion that Biden is going big on infrastructure were all supportive for markets, said François Savary, chief investment officer at Swiss wealth manager Prime Partners.

“The Fed confirmed the roadmap for any change in policy, which is a reassuring factor,” he said. “It looks like tapering won’t materialize until 2022 and that has induced weakness for the dollar, is supportive of market liquidity and means less pressure on emerging markets.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.14% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.21%.

European stocks ended lower as a rise in euro zone bond yields caused investors to lock in profits at near-record levels.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.3% to 438.77, coming further off a record peak of 443.61 hit last week.

Oil prices were on track to hit six-week highs as strong U.S. economic data, a weak dollar and an expected recovery in demand outweighed concerns about rising output and the impact of higher COVID-19 cases in Brazil and India.

U.S. crude futures settled at $65.01 per barrel, up 1.8%. Brent crude futures settled at $68.56 per barrel, up 1.9%.

Gold fell as U.S. Treasury yields gained.

Spot gold dropped 0.4% to $1,773.60 an ounce.

U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled down 0.3% at $1,768.3.

(Additional reporting by Tom Arnold in London, Kane Wu in Hong Kong, Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai and Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Kim Coghill, Gareth Jones, Chizu Nomiyama, Peter Graff, Sonya Hepinstall and Dan Grebler)