Stocks rise for fifth straight day as the Fed supports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An index of world stock markets rose on Thursday as worries over the lack of clear signs of a resolution to the U.S.-China trade spat were offset by an assurance by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the U.S. central bank has the ability to be patient on monetary policy.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The dollar rebounded after hitting a three-month low, while U.S. Treasury debt prices erased early gains after a soft 30-year bond auction and as Powell said the U.S. central bank will “substantially” reduce the size of its balance sheet.

MSCI’s all-country index, which came under some pressure after U.S. stocks briefly retreated following Powell’s comments on the Fed balance sheet, recovered to trade up 0.35 percent on the day. Thursday marked the index’s fifth straight session of gains.

Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, Powell reiterated the U.S. central bank has the ability to be patient on monetary policy given stable price measures. He downplayed predictions from policymakers suggesting interest rates would be raised twice more this year.

“The stock market is wanting to hear dovish speak from the Fed, whether it’s Powell or the governors or the presidents,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee.

Stocks around the globe started Thursday weaker after China said three days of talks with the United States that wrapped up on Wednesday had established a “foundation” to resolve differences. But it gave few details on key issues at stake, including a scheduled U.S. tariff increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

The trade war between the two economic giants has disrupted the flow of hundreds of billions of dollars of goods.

On Wall Street, stocks rose in a choppy session, having shrugged off a hit to retail stocks after Macy’s Inc cut its full-year profit and comparable sales forecast. The S&P 500 retail index fell 0.4 percent, and Macy’s shares sank 17.7 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 122.8 points, or 0.51 percent, to close at 24,001.92, the S&P 500 gained 11.68 points, or 0.45 percent, to finish at 2,596.64 and the Nasdaq Composite added 28.99 points, or 0.42 percent, to end at 6,986.07.

The pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark closed up 0.34 percent.

U.S. Treasury prices erased early gains and benchmark 10-year notes shed 1/32 in price to yield 2.7296 percent, up from 2.728 percent late Wednesday.

The dollar rallied from three-month lows, extending gains against the euro and yen, following Fed Chairman Powell’s remarks the U.S. central bank intends to further shrink the balance sheet, suggesting it is not done tightening monetary policy just yet.

The dollar index, tracking against a basket of six major currencies, rose 0.36 percent to 95.564, after earlier dropping to a three-month trough.

In commodity markets, oil prices clung to their recent gains.

Brent crude futures rose 24 cents to settle at $61.68 a barrel, a 0.39 percent gain. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 23 cents to settle at $52.59 a barrel, a 0.44 percent gain.

Both benchmarks rose by around 5 percent the previous day.

The stronger dollar, which makes gold more expensive for holders of other currencies, weighed on gold prices. Spot gold fell 0.51 percent to $1,286.42 per ounce.

Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler