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While you were sleeping: Wall St, oil rebound

Wednesday 21st March 2018

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Wall Street moved higher as did oil prices, while US Treasuries declined, as the US Federal Reserve began its first two-day policy meeting chaired by Jerome Powell.

Declines in shares of Facebook and Twitter limited gains on Wall Street.

In 2.40pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.5 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.2 percent. In 2.24pm trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.1 percent.

The Federal Open Market Committee is expected to lift its key interest rate during its two-day policy meeting ending Wednesday. Investors will eye the post-meeting statement and forecasts, as well as a press conference by Chair Jerome Powell, for any signs that the central bank’s pace of hikes might be steeper than previously flagged. 

So far, the Fed has signalled three hikes this year. 

“Our base case is the Fed would raise four times this year, and that would not have a material impact to the equity markets to the upside,” Josh Navarro, global investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank, told Reuters.

The Dow rose, as gains in shares of Boeing and those of Visa, recently up 1.8 percent and 1.5 percent respectively, outweighed declines in shares of General Electric and those of Verizon, down 2.7 percent and 1.4 percent respectively.

US Treasuries fell, lifting the yield on the 10-year note two basis points to 2.88 percent.

Shares of Facebook extended Monday’s slide, trading 4.9 percent weaker as of 2.13pm in New York. The company is drawing scrutiny from the main US privacy watchdog and half a dozen powerful congressional committees over how the personal data of 50 million users was obtained by a data analytics firm that helped elect President Donald Trump, Bloomberg reported. 

The US Federal Trade Commission is probing whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handing of personal user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without users’ knowledge, according Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter. The FTC will be sending a letter to the company, another person said.

Shares of Twitter plunged, down 10.3 percent as of 2.22pm in New York, amid concern about increased scrutiny of social media companies and a Bloomberg report that Israel’s government is considering taking “legal action” against Twitter for ignoring repeated requests to remove online content that was inciting or supportive of terrorism. 

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index rose 0.5 percent from the previous close. The UK’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.3 percent, while France’s CAC40 Index added 0.6 percent, and Germany’s DAX Index gained 0.7 percent


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