NEW YORK (Reuters) – The euro rose against the U.S. dollar o n T uesday on bets the European Central Bank would act soon to tackle the bloc’s debt crisis while U.S. crude oil prices edged higher as Hurricane Isaac approached the Gulf Coast.
Stocks were little changed on Wall Street as mixed data gave investors little indication whether Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might signal more economic stimulus from the Fed when he speaks on Friday.
Trading is very light, following the lowest volume for a full session so far this year.
U.S. crude prices rose 0.8 percent as Hurricane Isaac made its way through the Gulf of Mexico, forcing companies to close down oil rigs and refineries.
Investors were looking ahead to Bernanke’s speech on Friday at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where clues on more stimulus could translate into a weaker dollar.
The European Central Bank said its president, Mario Draghi, will not attend the conference due to a heavy workload, news that gave further support to the euro.
Draghi’s absence is seen as a hint that “he will be busy finalizing the details of policy proposals to be unveiled in the coming weeks,” according to Nick Bennenbroek, head of currency strategy at Wells Fargo Bank. The ECB will meet on September 6.
The single currency rose 0.55 percent to $1.2568.
Upbeat U.S. housing data made it harder for investors to determine if the Fed will announce further stimulus to the U.S. economy, a bet that has supported a recent rally in equities and other risk assets.
“Looks like we are taking a wait-and-see on Bernanke,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank in Chicago.
He said a handful of global economic indicators were mixed, leaving room for the Fed to pump more money into the economy.
“Unfortunately a fair amount of stimulus is probably priced in so we are at a period now where bad news is good news until we hear what (Bernanke) is actually going to do,” said Ablin.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dipped 10.10 points, or 0.08 percent, to 13,114.57. The S&P 500 Index .SPX gained 0.11 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,410.55. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 4.48 points, or 0.15 percent, to 3,077.68.
An MSCI gauge of global equities .WORLD fell 0.14 percent and the pan European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.7 percent.
Global growth worries resurfaced after Japan cut its assessment for the economy, citing slow-downs in the United States and China as well as Europe’s debt crisis.
The commodity-linked Australian dollar hit a five-week low of $1.0346 before bouncing back slightly.
Adding to signs of weakness, Spain said its recession had deepened in the second quarter as domestic spending slumped in the wake of tough austerity measures aimed at tackling the government’s fiscal problems.
U.S. Treasuries prices edged up ahead of a sale of $35 billion of two-year notes as traders anticipated hints from Bernanke of possible further economic stimulus.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was up 9/32, with the yield at 1.6199 percent.
(Writing by Rodrigo Campos; additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, Wanfeng Zhou and Richard Leong, editing by Dan Grebler and Chizu Nomiyama)