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Investors batten down ahead of Fed minutes, Eurozone recession fears grow

  • Fed minutes awaited
  • US Thanksgiving public holiday on Thursday
  • Stock eke out slim gains globally
  • Euro zone economic data points to recession
  • China hit by rising COVID-19 infections

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Global shares were little changed on Wednesday as investors kept their eyes peeled for the minutes of a Federal Reserve meeting that could shed light on whether the US central bank was considering moderating interest rate hikes.

The Fed has raised rates significantly in a bid to curb surging inflation, and New Zealand’s central bank earlier increased interest rates by a record 75 basis points to 4.25%, a harbinger of more likely hikes from the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and Bank of nextEngland month.

“There is an expectation that the Fed is probably closer to the end of rate hiking cycle than the beginning, certainly to the extent of the rate hikes, the bulk are behind them,” said Mike Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

“There is very little interest heading into the Thanksgiving weekend, and consequently markets are drifting higher on inertia. If you have made your money this year, are most probably done,” Hewson said.

US markets are closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving. The minutes of the Fed’s Nov. meeting are due out on Wednesday.

The MSCI All Country stock index (.MIWD00000PUS) was up 0.12%, though it still down about 18% for the year.

In Europe, the STOXX (.STOXX) index of 600 companies was up 0.1%, leaving it off about 10% for 2022. US stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, were slightly firmer.

David Bizer, managing partner at investment manager Global Customized Wealth, said investors were being guided by what they think the Fed would do next, as signs of a slowdown in the US economy become clearer.

The appreciation in markets overall in the fourth quarter is driven by this belief that the Fed is awakening to the fact that the pace and magnitude of their rate increases might have a near term conclusion. It gives the markets confidence that this is going to be the end,” Bizer said.

On the corporate news front, shares in Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) sank nearly 6% after the bank said it expects to make a pre-tax loss of up to 1.5 billion Swiss francs in the fourth quarter.

The downturn in euro zone business activity eased slightly in November but overall demand continued to decline as consumers cut spending amid a cost of living crisis, data showed, adding to evidence the currency bloc is entering recession.

In China, authorities imposed restrictions to rein in a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections, compounding investor worries about the world’s second largest economy.

Reuters Graphics

COVID RESTRICTIONS

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) rose 0.5%, buoyed by gains in US stocks overnight. The index is up 12% so far this month.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (.HSI) was up 0.6%, while China’s CSI300 Index (.CSI300) gained 0.1%.

“The biggest story for investors in Asia is still the reopening of China,” said Suresh Tantia, Credit Suisse’s senior investment strategist in Singapore.

“We had seen China markets rally up to 20% but those expectations are being dialed back, we think reopening will be a slower process and will not be done in a hurry.”

China on Wednesday reported 29,157 new COVID infections for Nov. 22, compared with 28,127 new cases a day earlier. Case numbers in Beijing and Shanghai are steadily rising, and remain high in several major manufacturing and export hubs, prompting authorities to close some facilities.

The yield on the 10-year benchmark Treasury notes traded at 3.7483% compared with its US close of 3.758% on Tuesday.

The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 4.5269% compared with a US close of 4.517%.

Ahead of the Fed minutes, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies from other major trading partners, was up 0.019%.

The euro single currency was also slightly firmer on the day at $1.0312.

“The US dollar lost a little of its recent gains (as) central bankers’ consensus about how much more interest rates should rise is fraying,” Commonwealth Bank analyst Tobin Gorey wrote on Wednesday.

Oil prices inched higher as data showed a larger-than-expected US crude drawdown last eek, outweighing concerns about lower fuel demand from China.

US crude was up 0.8% at a $81.59 a barrel, while Brent crude gained 1% to $89.23 a barrel.

Spot gold was traded at $1,737 per ounce, down 0.16% on the day.

While the FTX exchange collapse continues to roil cryptocurrency markets, Bitcoin was up 2.5% in at $16,547.

Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Sydney and Huw Jones in London; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Kim Coghill and Miral Fahmy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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