Stocks and oil touch 2019 highs; sterling rides Brexit twists

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks across the globe rose on Tuesday for a seventh straight session, the longest upward streak of the year, while the pound wobbled against the dollar on expectations that European Union officials would give Britain a delay on Brexit negotiations.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Bets that the Federal Reserve will this week reinforce the market view that the U.S. tightening cycle is in the rear-view mirror have kept alive the bid on stocks, while the dollar index touched its lowest since March 1.

“U.S. stocks are nearing record highs once again as investors price in a cautious scenario for policy, considering the macroeconomic environment hasn’t changed much since the Fed paused in January,” wrote John Lynch, chief investment strategist for LPL Financial in a note.

Investors will particularly look to see whether policymakers have sufficiently lowered their interest rate forecasts to align more closely their “dot plot,” which shows individual policymakers’ rate views for the next three years, with market expectations.

The CitiFX U.S. economic surprise index, which measures economic data against expectations, has been negative for over a month and earlier in March touched its lowest since August 2017.

(GRAPHIC: The Fed’s Dot Plot –

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.75 points, or 0.22 percent, to 25,970.85, the S&P 500 gained 8.19 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,841.13 and the Nasdaq Composite added 34.95 points, or 0.45 percent, to 7,749.43.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.57 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.35 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.19 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.1 percent higher, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 0.08 percent.


In currency markets, sterling touched $1.3311 after slipping as low as $1.3241 as traders expected EU officials to give Britain a delay on Brexit negotiations, though the uncertainty kept the market volatile. Sterling was last trading at $1.3268, up 0.10 percent on the day.

“The predominant notion adopted by the market is that as long as the worst-case scenario of hard Brexit is avoided by delaying Brexit, the pound is a buy on dips,” Rabobank strategists said in a note.

The dollar index fell 0.15 percent, with the euro up 0.15 percent to $1.1353.

“What we are seeing is the market positioning for potentially a more dovish tone tomorrow,” said Minh Trang, senior currency trader at California’s Silicon Valley Bank, speaking about expectations of what the Fed’s statement will be like on Wednesday.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03 percent versus the greenback at 111.40 per dollar.

Among commodities, oil prices were little changed after hitting 2019 highs, maintaining recent strength on the back of expectations for OPEC to continue production cuts. U.S. sanctions against producers Iran and Venezuela have also supported prices, although traders said the market may be capped by rising U.S. output. [O/R]

U.S. crude rose 0.02 percent to $59.10 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.75, up 0.31 percent on the day.

“OPEC and non-OPEC producers are determined to get the supply and demand dynamics better into balance, recognizing that U.S. shale production is going to continue to rise,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

Precious metal palladium, used in things like car catalytic converters, topped the $1,600 an ounce mark for the first time on supply concerns. [MET/L]

Palladium was last up 0.92 percent to $1,598.02 an ounce. Prices have nearly doubled since their mid-August lows and have surged more than 25 percent this year.

Spot gold added 0.3 percent to $1,306.77 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.39 percent to $1,306.60 an ounce.

Copper rose 0.56 percent to $6,461.00 a ton.

U.S. Treasury yields were little changed as the Fed’s interest rate policy-setting meeting began. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 2.6105 percent, from 2.601 percent late on Monday.

The 30-year bond last fell 9/32 in price to yield 3.0246 percent, from 3.01 percent late on Monday.

Additional reporting by Laila Kearney, Kate Duguid and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler

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