Investors play policy split between U.S. and Europe

Financial markets showed the diverging path of U.S. and euro zone monetary policy on Wednesday with Wall Street breaking new ground and the dollar perched near a 14-year high, as German bond yields plumbed new record lows.

World stocks .MIWD00000PUS edged up and the Dow closed above 19,000 for the first time .DJIwith investors expecting a growth boost under the policies of U.S President-elect Donald Trump and an imminent rate hike from the Federal Reserve that should be reinforced by minutes released later in the day.

With European rate setters leaning the other way, reaffirming their commitment to easy policy, the euro EUR= has been pushed near one-year lows. The split has been most stark in bond markets with yields on two-year German paper hitting record lows, stretching the gap to U.S. equivalents to an 11-year wide.

In Britain, sterling was a tad weaker at $1.2408 GBP= before a budget update where hopes for fiscal stimulus have been lowered as the government has stressed its limited borrowing room.

“We do like policy divergence trades,” Rabobank strategist Lyn Graham-Taylor said.

“I think markets had been a bit euphoric in the wake of Trump and now they are coming around to the understanding that there is not going to be fiscal stimulus that is going to be good for everyone.”

European stocks .FTEU3 were flat, struggling to match the exuberance in Asia .MIAPJ0000PUS, where stocks gained 0.7 percent to strike a one-week high, or the U.S., where the Dow .DJI hit a record high up 0.35 percent, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.22 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.33 percent. [.N]

With Japan on holiday, Australia’s main index led the action in Asia with a rise of 1.35 percent to a one-month top helped by strength in bulk commodity prices.

China’s blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 advanced 0.5 percent to a near 11-month peak as the yuan touched its lowest in six years.

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With equities in demand, U.S. bonds were getting the cold shoulder. Two-year note yields US2YT=RR rose as far as 1.107 percent on Tuesday, the highest since April 2010.

Euro zone yields were heading in the opposite direction and some solid growth data could not shake expectations for more monetary easing from the European Central Bank next month.

That saw yields on German two-year paper dive to record lows of minus 0.74 percent DE2YT=TWEB, which in turn expanded the yield premium offered by Treasuries to an 11-year peak.

The widening spread kept the euro pinned at $1.0611 EUR=, not far from last week’s one-year trough at $1.0569. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was up slightly at 101.12, very close to a 14-year peak .DXY.

The dollar also kept most of its recent hefty gains on the yen at 111.05 JPY=, though it has met resistance around 111.35 in the last couple of sessions.

Emerging markets have struggled in recent days as surging U.S. bond yields sucked much-needed capital out of Asia. President-elect Donald Trump’s past talk of trade tariffs has also weighed on sentiment in the export-intensive region.

Analysts at JPMorgan said Trump’s pledge to dump the Trans-Pacific Partnership was already priced into markets.

“What may not be factored in is the possibility of follow-through on other, more protectionist campaign proposals,” they wrote in a note to clients.

“We remain concerned about this as a source of downside risk, delivering a negative surprise to markets which so far appear to be enamored of his emphasis on fiscal stimulus and deregulation since the election.”

Elsewhere, oil prices declined as doubts re-emerged over whether OPEC would agree to a crude oil production cut at a ministerial meeting next week.

Brent crude LCOc1 eased 10 cents to $49.03 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 lost 5 cents to $48.00.

Industrial metals advanced on talk of demand from China and the whole global reflation trade. Copper was near a 16-month high, while iron ore futures <0#DCIO:> surged 8 percent on the back of higher steel prices.

By John Geddie | LONDON

(Additional reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Source: Reuters

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