By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street ended higher and U.S. Treasury yields retraced earlier gains on Monday, capping the first session of a week likely to be light in volume but heavy with economic data that could affect whether the Federal Reserve will take a rate-hike breather in September.
All three major U.S. indexes advanced but closed off session highs amid light trading at the start of what is considered the last unofficial week of summer, one jam-packed with closely watched economic indicators.
“I wouldn’t trust what happens in the markets this week,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana. “It’s a week where, historically, there’s not much going on and people are on the sidelines, so any news gets exacerbated.”
“We’re in a news lull until we get back into earnings season and there’s more action and discussion coming from the Fed,” Carlson added.
In remarks delivered on Friday at the central bank conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said inflation was still too high, but noted that economic uncertainty called for “agile” monetary policy making and said that the Fed would proceed “carefully.”
Beijing announced that it would cut its stamp duty on stock trading in half, following its earlier move to support affordable housing on Friday, which fueled hopes that China’s languishing post-COVID economy might shift out of low gear.
“China is having economic difficulty, they’re not making the bigger moves that are necessary to compensate,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut. “They’re just making fractional moves.”
“It all stems back to COVID,” Pavlik said. “It’s still reverberating through their economy.”
Ahead of the upcoming Labor Day weekend, a barrage of high-profile economic data is expected, including the August employment report, PCE inflation, ISM PMI and the Commerce Department’s second take on April-June GDP, all of which could provide insight regarding the Fed’s next policy move.
At last glance, financial markets have priced in an 80.5% likelihood that the central bank will let interest rates stand at the conclusion of next month’s September meeting.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.19 points, or 0.63%, to 34,559.98, the S&P 500 gained 27.6 points, or 0.63%, to 4,433.31 and the Nasdaq Composite added 114.49 points, or 0.84%, to 13,705.13.
European stocks enjoyed their best day in a month, advancing 0.9% under the power of China-related tech shares.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.89% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.83%.
Emerging market stocks rose 0.72%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.76% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.73%.
U.S. Treasury two-year yields retreated from a near two-month high, as investors struggled to gauge the likelihood of additional rate hikes from the Fed.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 8/32 in price to yield 4.2098%, from 4.239% late on Friday.
The 30-year bond last rose 6/32 in price to yield 4.2831%, from 4.295% late on Friday.
The greenback touched a nine-month high against the Japanese yen, but inched lower against a basket of world currencies after the Fed kept open the possibility of further policy tightening.
The dollar index fell 0.06%, with the euro up 0.19% to $1.0814.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.07% versus the greenback at 146.55 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.26, up 0.18% on the day.
Oil prices eased back from earlier gains driven by Beijing’s steps to jumpstart its flagging economy due to worries that additional tightening from the Fed could be in the cards.
But the threat of a tropical storm off the U.S. Gulf Coast suggested a potential supply disruption.
U.S. crude rose 0.34% to settle at $80.10 per barrel, while Brent settled at $84.42, down 0.07% on the day.
Gold gained ground as investors continue to digest Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s Jackson Hole commentary last week and looked forward to the week’s economic data.
Spot gold added 0.3% to $1,919.38 an ounce.
(Reporting by Stephen Culp in New York; Additional reporting by Neil Mackenzie and Amanda Cooper in London; Editing by Diane Craft and Matthew Lewis)