Global markets mostly lower; investors await Fed minutes

LONDON: Asian and European stock markets mostly fell Tuesday as investors awaited minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting for a steer on interest rates in the world’s biggest economy.

The Fed will later publish minutes from its November gathering, when policymakers held rates, and investors will analyze comments from officials.

Investors are becoming increasingly optimistic that the US central bank is finished hiking rates, with expectations growing that financial conditions will become easier in the new year as inflation comes down.

That has fanned a rush back into risk assets in recent weeks and also pushed the dollar down against its peers.

“Traders will scrutinize the minutes closely, hoping to find clues for the timing of the next Fed move, which is now widely assumed to be a cut,” said ActivTrades senior analyst Ricardo Evangelista.

Get the latest news

delivered to your inbox

Sign up for The Manila Times newsletters

By signing up with an email address, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

“Against this background, dovish minutes could bring forward the market’s expectations for when the Fed will begin cutting rates and trigger further dollar weakness.”

Investors will also pay close attention to earnings from US retailers Best Buy and Lowe’s ahead of the peak-demand Christmas shopping season.

New York’s three main indices extended their gains Monday, with the Nasdaq hitting a 22-month high thanks to an advance in tech giants including Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia.

The rally was boosted by the successful sale of 20-year US Treasuries that sent yields on other notes lower. Talk is now growing that the Fed could cut borrowing costs as early as March, much earlier than previous bets on the second half of 2024.

Asian markets started Tuesday on the front foot but ran out of gas as the day progressed.

Hong Kong dipped even after market heavyweight Alibaba jumped more than two percent to extend its rebound after diving 10 percent Friday on news it had canceled the spinoff of its cloud computing arm.

Tokyo, Singapore, Jakarta and Wellington also fell, while Shanghai was flat. Sydney, Seoul, Mumbai, Taipei, Bangkok and Manila were all up.

In Europe, London and Paris both retreated somewhat while Frankfurt edged upwards.

World oil prices stagnated as traders awaited this Sunday’s upcoming output meeting of OPEC+ crude-producing nations.

“The main question the market is asking is whether OPEC will cut production further in response to softening oil prices,” noted Economist Intelligence Unit analyst Matt Sherwood.

“These have returned to the levels they were at before the Israel-Hamas war broke out in early October.”

Wall Street is expected to be subdued for the rest of the week owing to the Thanksgiving holiday long weekend, with US markets closed on Thursday and finishing early on Friday.