NEW YORK Stock indexes worldwide rebounded on Wednesday after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen eased concerns about the U.S. economy, while greater calm surrounding the European banking sector boosted that region's shares.
Yellen acknowledged that tightening financial conditions and uncertainty about China posed risks, but told Congress she does not expect the central bank to reverse its rate hike program.
Stock markets have sagged given uncertainty surrounding monetary policy and a steep decline in commodity prices, while corporate results and economic data offered little respite.
Yellen's testimony boosted sentiment after expectations of a 2016 rate rise had all but vanished, partly on weak U.S. economic data, even though the Fed's forecasts suggest members see more rate hikes during the year.
European shares snapped a seven-day losing streak, bolstered by solid earnings and a recovery in Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) from 30-year lows. The euro zone's banking index .SX7E ended up 6.9 percent. It still appeared headed for a seventh straight weekly decline, the longest losing streak since 1998.
"What Yellen said has been taken positively," said Richard Sichel, chief investment officer of Philadelphia Trust Co in Philadelphia. “Stocks in general are cheaper now than they were three days ago or three months ago, so there’s an opportunity to step in."
MSCI's all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS rose 1.91 points, or 0.53 percent, to 360.34.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was last up 21.4 points, or 0.13 percent, at 16,035.78. The S&P 500 .SPX was up 15.19 points, or 0.82 percent, at 1,867.4. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 65.60 points, or 1.54 percent, at 4,334.36.
Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended up 1.78 percent, at 1,241.49. On Tuesday, the index fell 1.6 percent and hit its lowest since September 2013.
Brent crude prices rose but U.S. crude prices fell in choppy trade, a day after one of the biggest declines since the 2008 financial crisis. [O/R]
Brent LCOc1 was last up 57 cents, or 1.88 percent, at $30.89 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 was last down 44 cents, or 1.57 percent, at $27.5 per barrel.
The dollar hit 113.720 yen, its lowest since Nov. 2014, as investors disregarded optimism about continued tightening from the Fed and packed back into the safe-haven Japanese currency.
Treasury yields dipped after the U.S. Treasury sold $23 billion in 10-year notes to solid demand, showing the dramatic drop in yields this year has not scared away investors.
“Demand is definitely here at these yield levels,” said Justin Lederer, an interest rate strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.
Spot gold prices XAU= were last up $3.6 or 0.30 percent, at $1,192.06 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Dion Rabouin and Karen Brettell in New York and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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