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Global Stocks Edge Up Amid Questions on Fed Policy

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06/13/2019 | 06:10am EDT

By Will Horner

Global stocks mostly rose Thursday as investors weighed the chances of a U.S. interest-rate cut after data showed the nation's inflation was weaker than expected.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3% in morning trading. A jump in the price of oil helped to support shares of European oil companies. That lifted the Stoxx Europe 600's oil-and-gas subindex by 0.4%.

Crude's gains came after a suspected attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have run high since an attack on four tankers in May. The region's waters are crucial for the transportation of oil and fears that tensions would crimp supply helped Brent crude jump 3.6% on Thursday to $62.13 a barrel.

In Asia, stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen posted modest advances, but Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.1% after paring back on heavier early losses amid violent protests in the city against unpopular legislation . Japan's Nikkei fell 0.5%.

In the U.S., futures pointed to opening gains on Wall Street of 0.4% for the S&P 500 and 0.3% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Stocks across the globe began the week higher as investors welcomed hints from the Federal Reserve that it might lower interest rates. Those hopes have been tempered in recent sessions by continuing concerns over the Trump administration's willingness to levy tariffs on trading partners, and questions over whether U.S. economic data would prove weak enough for the central bank to act.

Data released Wednesday showed U.S. inflation slowed in May. Annual consumer prices rose 1.8% in May, lower than the 2% in April and below a WSJ consensus forecast of 1.9%. While the reading boosted the case for a rate cut, investors were debating whether pressure on the Fed from markets and the Trump administration would be sufficient to prompt the central bank to move.

"The market is clearly telling the Fed...that policy is too tight for an economy that is running with low inflation," said Katie Nixon, chief investment officer at Northern Trust's wealth-management business. "The only question right now is will the Fed listen?"

Ms. Nixon said the central bank was in difficult position, as it seeks to avoid appearing to bow to pressure from President Trump, who has repeatedly chastised it for raising interest rates. A meeting of the central bank's policy-making body next week might provide an opportunity for it to acknowledge the inflation data and offer more hints of a coming cut.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the German Xetra DAX index was boosted by rising shares of telecommunications companies. Telefonica Deutschland shares rose 4.2% after it secured a role in the nation's 5G network, while 1&1 Drillisch shares jumped 8.2%. Those moves helped lift the Stoxx Europe 600's Telecom subindex by 0.6%.

U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. That pushed down the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note to 2.115% after settling at 2.129% Wednesday.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the currency against a basket of its peers, was broadly flat.

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DAX 0.26% 12260.07 Delayed Quote.16.11%
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.25% 27154.2 Delayed Quote.16.40%
HANG SENG 1.23% 28787.64 Real-time Quote.11.38%
NASDAQ 100 -0.88% 7834.896756 Delayed Quote.24.87%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.74% 8146.488965 Delayed Quote.23.36%
NIKKEI 225 2.00% 21466.99 Real-time Quote.5.15%
S&P 500 -0.62% 2976.61 Delayed Quote.19.48%
US DOLLAR INDEX 0.35% 97.13 End-of-day quote.0.46%
WTI 0.11% 55.72 Delayed Quote.24.56%
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