Wall Street hits record highs, oil prices slump

By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK Wall Street’s three main stock indexes hit record highs for a second straight day on Tuesday before trimming gains, while European shares also rose on expectations that markets would benefit from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

The Dow topped the 19,000 mark and the S&P 500 moved past 2,200 for the first time ever, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index and the FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 of top regional shares climbed to the highest levels since Nov. 10.

Declines in U.S. healthcare stocks chipped away at the indexes gains, however. U.S. shares have rallied since the Nov. 8 U.S. election as Trump has promised tax cuts, higher spending on infrastructure and simpler regulations in the banking and healthcare industries.

A sharp rally in metals prices and mining stocks boosted European shares as the recent trend of a rotation to cyclical plays continued. The European Basic Resources index .SXPP, closed up more than 3.4 percent after prices of major industrial metals such as copper and aluminum increased.

“Optimism is returning because of the potential that exists in the form of fiscal stimulus, infrastructure spending and tax cuts,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth in New York.

MSCI’s all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 0.74 point, or 0.18 percent, at 413.04.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 27.43 points, or 0.14 percent, at 18,984.12. The S&P 500 .SPX was down 0.14 point, or 0.01 percent, at 2,198.04. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 10.15 points, or 0.19 percent, at 5,379.01.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.13 percent at 1,344.15.

Oil prices fell in volatile trade on worries Iran and Iraq were not ready to agree on an OPEC output freeze. Prices earlier rose to their highest levels this month on reports that cartel members had overcome their internal disputes.

Brent crude LCOc1 was last down 40 cents, or 0.82 percent, at $48.5 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 was down 77 cents, or 1.6 percent, at $47.47 per barrel. U.S. crude rose as high as $49.20 a barrel earlier, while benchmark Brent crude touched $49.96.

The dollar edged higher against the yen after touching a session high of 111.35 yen, just below Monday’s nearly 6-month high of 111.36 yen, on data showing a surge in U.S. existing home sales last month.

The data reinforced expectations not only that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise interest rates next month, but would tighten monetary policy further next year.

“The greenback should continue to benefit from mounting expectations for inflation and a potentially faster pace of Fed rate hikes,” said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.

U.S. two-year Treasury note yields US2YT=RR steadied after rising to a more than six-year high of 1.1070 percent US2YT=RR earlier.

New supply has weighed on shorter-dated debt at the same time as investors are increasingly nervous about impending interest rate hikes.

Gold edged lower on reduced appetite for safe-haven assets. Spot gold prices XAU= were last down $1.64, or 0.14 percent, at $1,212.02 an ounce.

(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru, Sabina Zawadzki in London and Karen Brettell and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)

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