Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

U.S. Stocks Soar, Dollar Sinks After Fed Decision: Markets Wrap

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U.S. stocks surged and the dollar tumbled after the Federal Reserve signaled a stark dovish turn in its latest policy statement.

The S&P 500 Index rallied to an eight-week high, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 400 points and the Nasdaq 100 Index added more than 2.5 percent after the Fed said it will be “patient” on future interest-rate moves and signaled flexibility on the path for reducing its balance sheet. Major gauges were already higher on the day as technology shares rallied after Apple Inc.’s results beat estimates and Boeing Co. helped boost industrial stocks.

The dollar weakened to a four-month low. The Treasury yield curve steepened as the two-year rate crashed while the 10-year level fell less sharply.

The Federal Open Market Committee “will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support” a strong labor market and inflation near 2 percent, policy makers said Wednesday.

The dovish statement helped ease fears that policy makers would continue with plans to raise interest rates even in the face of data suggesting the economy is cooling. The latest corporate earnings offered some reassurance after a series of lackluster results in January. All eyes will now be on tech giants including Facebook and Microsoft when they report later today. Meanwhile, Chinese negotiators are meeting U.S. counterparts in Washington for talks to resolve the ongoing trade dispute.

Policy makers took “a step in a very dovish direction,” said Brett Ryan, a U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank AG. “They’re going to be on hold for a little bit.”

U.S. Stocks Soar, Dollar Sinks After Fed Decision: Markets Wrap

The pound gained after losses Tuesday when lawmakers voted against a key proposal that sought to rule out the prospect of the U.K. crashing out of the European Union without a deal. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index’s gains were led by U.K. companies. Members of Parliament including Prime Minister Theresa May instead backed a proposal to strip out the most difficult part of her proposed divorce package and re-open talks with the European Union.

Elsewhere, iron ore surged after Brazil’s Vale SA, the world’s largest producer, outlined plans to cut output after a deadly dam breach. Oil rose above $54 a barrel as a government report showed a steep drop in imports from Saudi Arabia. Stocks in Japan and China slid, while they increased in South Korea, Australia and Hong Kong.

Among key events in the coming days:

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic aide, Vice Premier Liu He, meets with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Tech giants Microsoft, Facebook, Qualcomm, Tesla, Samsung and Sony announce earnings.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index rose 1.6 percent at the close of trading in New York.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.4 percent to the highest in eight weeks.
  • The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index gained 1.6 percent.
  • The MSCI Emerging Market Index rose 1 percent to a four-month high.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.4 percent.
  • The euro gained 0.4 percent to $1.1477.
  • The British pound rose 0.3 percent to $1.3104.
  • The Japanese yen rose 0.4 percent to 108.96 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell two basis points to 2.69 percent.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to 0.19 percent.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield decreased one basis point to 1.25 percent.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.8 percent to $54.27 a barrel.
  • Gold rose 0.5 percent to $1,318.10 an ounce.

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