Fed Comments Propel Markets Forward
Traders found new reasons for optimism on Thursday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell commented that the Fed’s policy rate is now “just below” estimates of a neutral economy. Powell’s comments hinted to analysts that the Fed’s current monetary tightening policy would be ending in the near term.
U.S. stock markets soared higher on Wednesday after Powell’s comments, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping 2.5 percent to see its biggest one-day climb since March 26th, and its second-best day of the year. The S&P closed up 2.3 percent and the Nasdaq closed 2.95 percent higher. The gains posted on Wednesday reversed November’s negative trend to allow both the Dow and S&P 500 to head towards the month’s end in the green.
Despite the strong uptrend in the past few trading sessions, a poll released this week by Reuters showed that the majority of analysts polled believe the bull market is still heading towards its end. Nearly 250 equity stategists were polled, and most predicted that 2018 would end up with Wall Street indexes closing lower, even if they continue higher between now and the year’s end.
Asian markets took hints from Wall Street, heading mostly higher on Thursday. The Nikkei 225 was up 0.39 percent as of 2:01 p.m. HK/SIN. The ASX 200 was up 0.58 percent and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.12 percent. China’s benchmark indexes were both lower.
The dollar declined following Powell’s comments, and the dollar index was trading down 0.09 percent during Asia’s mid-afternoon. The greenback was down 0.41 percent against the yen to 113.21. The euro surged 0.19 percent against the dollar to $1.1388 while the pound was trading 0.14 percent higher to $1.2842.