Stocks subdued, U.S. yields fall with Fed on tap

NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stock markets were little changed on Monday and benchmark U.S. bond yields edged back from 13-month highs as investors looked to the U.S. central bank’s meeting later in the week after the U.S. government passed a massive coronavirus relief bill.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall St. street sign is seen near the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.01%.

Wall Street’s main indexes were mixed in early trade after the benchmark S&P 500 set record highs last week, while European shares hit pre-pandemic levels, with travel shares gaining in both regions.

The Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday is in focus with rising bond yields and concerns over a pickup in inflation. Fed policymakers are expected this week to forecast that the U.S. economy will grow in 2021 at the fastest rate in decades.

“I think there is still a bias toward accelerating economic growth,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial.

“Beyond that, it’s still pretty tentative,” Joy said. “It seems like it is going to be that way until we get to the Fed meeting on Wednesday and see what they have to say about the economy.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.89 points, or 0.01%, to 32,774.75, the S&P 500 gained 0.09 points, or 0.00%, to 3,943.43 and the Nasdaq Composite added 51.27 points, or 0.38%, to 13,371.14.

Airline shares rose as the companies pointed to concrete signs of an industry recovery as a slowing COVID-19 pandemic helps leisure bookings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.12%, touching its highest level since February 2020, led by travel stocks.

The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill President Joe Biden signed into law last week, expected improving economic data and the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations supported gains, even as investors were attuned to the outlook for monetary policy.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields fell and the yield curve flattened as the market looked ahead to the Fed meeting and the latest government debt auctions.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 6/32 in price to yield 1.6161%, from 1.635% late on Friday.

Rising inflation expectations could prompt the Federal Open Market Committee to signal it will start raising rates sooner than expected.

“Following the fiscal stimulus packages it is inevitable that Fed GDP forecasts will be revised up, and some FOMC members might think rates will have to move higher sooner than they anticipated last December,” economists at ANZ said.

In currencies trading, the dollar index rose 0.153%, with the euro down 0.2% to $1.1931.

Oil prices slipped after Brent hit $70 a barrel as data showed an accelerating economic recovery in China, which was offset by fears of inflation.

U.S. crude recently fell 1.51% to $64.62 per barrel and Brent was at $68.24, down 1.42% on the day.

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