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By David Randall
NEW YORK, March 20, 2018 - Rising oil prices helped lift equity markets worldwide on Tuesday, while the U.S. dollar jumped ahead of a meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers, who are expected to go ahead with the first of at least three U.S. rate hikes this year.
U.S. technology stocks lagged broader markets, continuing a selloff sparked by reports of large-scale misuse of Facebook user data. Shares of Facebook Inc dipped nearly 5 percent in morning trading, continuing a slide that took nearly 7 percent off its share price on Monday.
While stocks on Wall Street climbed, Facebook’s drop kept the gains in check.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 165.58 points, or 0.67 percent, to 24,776.49, the S&P 500 gained 5.78 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,718.7 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.67 points, or 0.19 percent, to 7,357.91.
There were other tech-related problems, too. An accident involving an Uber test car on Monday which resulted in the first fatality involving a fully autonomous vehicle weighed on Silicon Valley sentiment.
Shares in European chipmakers also faced pressure, while Germany’s SAP declined 0.5 percent, hit by a knock-on effect from U.S. business software peer Oracle, whose quarterly revenue missed analysts’ estimates.
“There certainly are some stocks where valuations look somewhat stretched ... so we’re focusing our exposure within the technology sector on the cheaper end of the market,” Mike Bell, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, said.
“We’re a bit more cautious on the more expensive and some of the more popular names in the sector,” Bell added.
The U.S. dollar climbed to a one-week high against the Japanese yen as traders limbered up for the start of a two-day Fed Reserve meeting.
With a quarter-point hike - its sixth since the Fed began raising interest rates in late 2015 - baked into market prices, major currencies were largely moving in ranges.
“Euro/dollar is being buffeted by cross currents, especially as both central banks (Fed and the ECB) are normalizing policy but it needs an unexpected policy action to jolt markets,” said Neil Jones, Mizuho’s London head of currency hedge fund sales.
Markets expect at least two more U.S. rate hikes after Wednesday for the rest of the year, although analysts acknowledged that the central bank’s ‘dot plot’ could potentially point to as many as four.
The Fed bets kept long-term U.S. bond yields nudging higher with short-dated yields up too.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries was up at almost 2.89 percent, 6 basis points below the four-year high of 2.957 percent touched a month ago. Two-year notes hit a 9 1/2-year high of 2.33 percent.
Among the major commodities, oil prices jumped in line with the dollar as investors remained wary of growing crude supply although tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran provided some support.
U.S. crude rose 2.43 percent to $63.57 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.55, up 2.27 percent.
The potential for a trade war cast a shadow over export currencies after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum. The government is expected to unveil up to $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports by Friday.
U.S. businesses were alarmed, with several large U.S. retail companies, including Wal-Mart Inc and Target Corp , on Monday urging Trump not to impose massive tariffs on goods imported from China.
The dollar index, tracking the greenback against a basket of major currencies, rose 0.48 percent, with the euro down 0.41 percent to $1.2283.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.30 percent versus the greenback to 106.41 per dollar, while sterling was at $1.4012, down 0.08 percent on the day.
Editing by Bernadette Baum