Shares rise, dollar frozen ahead of Fed rate meet

London - World share markets rose on Wednesday, albeit in thin volume, and short-term US bond yields held near four-and-a-half-year highs as investors braced for the possibility of the first interest rate hike in the United States in almost a decade.

A late 5% surge in Chinese stocks had helped Asia's bourses finish more than 2% higher as early gains of 0.7% to 1.3% for London's FTSE, Frankfurt's DAX and Paris's CAC 40 got Europe of to a solid day too.

Markets remained in a state of flux on the likelihood of a rate increase by the Fed at its two-day meeting starting later in the day, and US economic data published on Tuesday did little to either back, or douse, expectations of one.

Inflation data is due in both the US and Europe and with both likely to show it remains barely visable in either region as it has for over a year now, that is unlikely to sway many opinions either.

All the uncertainty left the dollar in frozen animation against the world's other main currencies having rebounded from Monday's three-week low of 95.125 to stand at 95.600. But it is essentially staying within its well-worn range of the last few weeks.

The euro traded at $1.1261 while the dollar inched down fractionally against the yen to ¥120.27.

"It's more a day for thinking about tomorrow," said Kit Juckes, head of currency strategy at Societe Generale in London.

"Positions are coming off rather than going on. We have seen the front end (short-dated U.S. government bond yields) rally but it hasn't really sent the dollar roaring."

Emerging market currencies remained under pressure near multi-year lows against the dollar amid worries that higher US interest rates could lure away foreign investors again.

Rouble rally

However some of those hardest hit in recent months, like Russia's rouble, Turkey's lira and Mexico's peso made notable gains as traders squared up in case of any Fed related surprises.

The rouble was up almost 1.5% against the dollar and 1.7% against the euro.

Oil prices also helped as it extended gains made on Tuesday. Brent climbed more than 1 percent to $48.32 per barrel and US crude hit $45.27, as an unexpected stockpile drawdown reported by the American Petroleum Institute (API) on Tuesday set expections for official crude inventory data later. .

Gold was languishing near 1-month lows ahead of the Fed meeting at $1 108 an ounce, though industrial metals including copper, nickel and tin made more minor gains as their slight recovery of the last few weeks continued.

China shares had provided a boost too, as they saw a strong rally in the last hour of trading to end up 5%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped in tandem to close 2.4% higher.

Bond markets were largely biding their time ahead of the Fed. US Treasuries' yields sagged having jumped on Tuesday, with the policy-sensitive two-year yield rising to 0.815%, its highest level since April 2011.

It last traded at 0.7822%.

The 10-year US notes' yield stood at 2.2616% , having risen to a one-and-a-half-month high of 2.294% on Tuesday, while yields in benchmark European markets also dipped as the ECB stressed its openness to more money printing.

"The total amount that we have purchased represents 5.3% of the GDP (gross domestic product) of the euro area, whereas what the Fed has done represents almost 25% of the US GDP, what the Bank of Japan has done represents 64% of the Japanese GDP and what the UK has done 21% of the UK's GDP," Constancio told Reuters in an interview.

"So we are very far from what the major central banks have done," Constancio, 71, said. "This is not a benchmark ...(but) there is scope, if the necessity is there."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.44
-0.5%
Rand - Pound
19.81
-0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.95
+0.6%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.17
+0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.5%
Gold
1,801.80
-0.4%
Silver
19.92
-0.3%
Palladium
1,928.00
-0.3%
Platinum
872.50
-1.6%
Brent Crude
113.50
+1.7%
Top 40
60,202
-1.2%
All Share
66,313
-1.1%
Resource 10
61,927
-2.7%
Industrial 25
80,991
-0.3%
Financial 15
14,689
-1.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot