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US stocks reach all-time highs before retreating

© AFP archive

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-11-18

Two of the main stock indices in the United States broke new records on Monday, fueled by hopes of further Fed stimulus, but later gave up most of the gains.

U.S. stock indices scaled record highs before retreating on Monday, buoyed by the prospect of continued Federal Reserve stimulus, while the dollar slipped and global equity markets climbed, driven by economic reform plans in China.

The Dow and S&P 500 surged past the 16,000 and 1,800 milestones, respectively, although they subsequently lost their gains. Round numbers often act as resistance points for chartists, but clearing them can also provide momentum for investors eager to chase performance.

There is reason for caution, with valuation elevated though not excessive, said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial. Forward earnings for the S&P are at 15.3, with the 45-year average at 14.8, Thomson Reuters data shows.

"Equities are still in a favorable environment of low inflation and interest rates supporting valuations, with just enough economic growth to allow for some modest earnings growth," Joy said.

"With the Fed remaining accommodative, retail flows into domestic equity mutual funds turning positive and overseas economies improving, stocks continue to move higher."

Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong posted their biggest gain in nearly two years, driving the safe-haven dollar and Japanese yen lower after China announced its most sweeping economic and social reforms in nearly three decades.

The reform plans boosted investor appetite for higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars. The growth-linked currencies outperformed as a flood of global liquidity and promises to keep interest rates low continue to weigh on the low-yielding U.S. dollar and the yen.

The China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong soared 5.7 percent for its biggest daily gain since Dec. 1, 2011.

Germany’s DAX index finished at a all-time closing high of 9,225.43 as European shares resumed their rally on an improving outlook for the euro zone economy.
MSCI’s all-country world stock index rose 0.25 percent, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.49 percent to close at 1,304.25.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 13.20 points, or 0.08 percent, at 15,948.50. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 9.40 points, or 0.52 percent, at 1,788.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 41.20 points, or 1.03 percent, at 3,944.77.

In the view of Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts, investment from retail investors may just be beginning.

"Although I maintain valuations are very high, there is no reason they can’t go even higher over the short to medium term, particularly through the end of the year," McMillan said.

Gold fell as a rebound in equities and lackluster physical demand prompted traders to cash in three days’ of gains, though expectations the Fed’s policy will stay loose lent support.

Gold for December delivery settled down 1.2 percent at $1,272.3 an ounce.
U.S. Treasury debt prices rose, supported by the prospect of the Fed’s continued "easy" monetary policy.

The dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of currencies, slipped 0.1 percent to 80.775.

The euro drew some support after data showed the euro zone’s trade surplus grew more than expected in September. The euro was up 0.04 percent at 1.3501.

The Australian dollar rose 0.13 percent to US$0.9380, while the New Zealand dollar gained 0.04 percent to US$0.8344.

Brent crude oil fell toward $108 a barrel after a week of sharp gains ahead of talks between Iran and the West that could lead to an increase in Iranian crude oil exports. U.S. oil futures fell more than $1 per barrel on the view that supplies were ample.

January Brent crude settled down 3 cents at $108.47 a barrel, while U.S. crude for December delivery fell 81 cents to settle at $93.03 a barrel.

Trading in the U.S. Treasury market was comparatively subdued, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury note up 10/32, leaving its yield at 2.6711 percent.

Bund futures settled up 23 ticks at 141.85, while 10-year German yields fell to 1.68 percent.

Germany’s ZEW business sentiment indicator on Tuesday and the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s October policy meeting on Wednesday may provide hints to future monetary policy moves.

(Reuters)

Date created : 2013-11-18

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