By Tom Wilson and Pete Schroeder
LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. stocks and oil looked to hold steady after steeper losses earlier in the week, as investors processed recession fears and awaited new policy hints from the Federal Reserve.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.01% in morning trading, while the S&P 500 gained 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.25%.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, was down 0.1%.
The euro, which has lurched toward parity with the dollar this month, was lower again at $1.02. But with stocks and Brent up [.EU][O/R], Norway’s gas strike off and Wall Street expected to stay steady [.N], the intensity had dropped noticeably.
Euro zone government bond yields also continued to tick lower although Britain’s pound barely flinched after the country’s finance minister and a dozen others quit in protest against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Nevertheless, worries lingered about the world economy grinding to a standstill, analysts said.
“The market moves over the past couple of days have been classic recessionary pricing,” said Hugh Gimber, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. “Investors are really becoming more cognisant of the risks.”
The dollar’s six currency index added to a 20-year peak at 106.97, with others safe havens also in demand, including the Japanese yen. [/FRX]
Hans Peterson, the global head of asset allocation at SEB investment management in Sweden, said that for global markets to feel better again oil prices and inflation would have to come down and stay down.
“The things we are looking at is how consumers are reacting – and also the central banks – and when will they be satisfied with what they have done,” Peterson said, referring to interest rate rises and stimulus withdrawal.
Graphic: Euro hurtles toward parity as gas prices surge, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/zjpqklrkjpx/Pasted%20image%201657090773961.png
Brent crude futures dipped as U.S. traders started their day, but were relatively steady after a 7% drop on Tuesday as supply concerns balanced the recession angst.
Brent crude was last down 1% at $101.74 a barrel.
Uncertainty over Europe’s gas supply has led the latest round of growth worries, sending prices rocketing. Benchmark Dutch gas prices have doubled since the middle of June.
Yet they dropped 7% on Tuesday after the Norwegian government intervened to end an industrial strike that had looked set to worsen Europe’s energy crisis, where warnings of rationing have now emerged.
Some investors worry that flow along the Nord Stream pipeline, which brings gas from Russia to Germany, might not resume after a 10-day maintenance shutdown from July 11 and that winter supply shortages will then prompt rationing and a sharp drop in economic activity.
The backdrop is rising interest rates.
The Federal Reserve’s minutes later should provide insight on its June meeting, where it announced the sharpest hike in the U.S. benchmark interest rate in nearly 30 years. It is likely to foreshadow more hikes as Fed officials have said their top priority is fighting inflation, even at the cost of growth.
A key part of the U.S. Treasury yield curve – the two-year and 10-year range – stayed inverted for a second straight day on Wednesday in a sign of growing angst in the world’s biggest bond market over recession risks. [US/]
An inversion of this part of the Treasury curve is viewed as a reliable indicator that a recession is looming, usually 18-24 months down the line.
The two-year, five-year section, which on Tuesday inverted for the first time since February 2020, also stayed inverted
“The probability of a soft landing had massively declined,” August Hatecke, the co-head of UBS Wealth Management Asia Pacific, told investors at a conference in Singapore.
Graphic: Recession fears start hitting global markets https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/egpbkgryzvq/Pasted%20image%201657097981909.png
(Addtional reporting Sam Byford in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham)