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Global stocks dip, dollar strengthens after Fed officials hint at April rate hike

Global equity markets edged lower on Monday as the dollar strengthened and US Treasury yields rose on hawkish commentary from several Federal Reserve officials.

Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker said US inflation is likely to accelerate in the coming years and move toward the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target, while San Francisco Fed President John Williams told Market News International he would advocate for another interest rate hike as early as the April meeting.

In addition, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said the Fed may be in line for a rate hike as soon as April, as last week's decision to hold rates steady was more about ensuring that recent global financial volatility had settled down.

The Fed building in Washington. Reuters

The Fed building in Washington. Reuters

"He (Lockhart) reiterated that every meeting is a 'live' meeting going forward and I think that overall somewhat hawkish tone to his comments is largely what's helping support the dollar this afternoon," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange Inc in Washington.

The dollar rose 0.29 percent to 95.357 against a basket of major currencies. The greenback had fallen in the three prior weeks for a decline of 3.1 percent.

The currency fell last week when Fed policymakers revised down the number of times they expect to raise interest rates this year to two from four.

Benchmark 10-year notes were last down 13/32 in price to yield 1.9173 percent, from 1.87 percent on Friday.

The stronger dollar weighed on European equities, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst stock index closing down 0.25 percent to start a week shortened by the Easter break.

US stocks were little changed as investors looked for fresh catalysts after a five-week rally that pushed the benchmark S&P 500 into positive territory for the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 21.77 points, or 0.12 percent, to 17,624.07, the S&P 500 gained 2.02 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,051.6 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.23 points, or 0.28 percent, to 4,808.87.

MSCI's index of world shares shed 0.14 percent.

Crude oil prices rose, as Brent settled up 0.8 percent at $41.54 and WTI settled up 1.19 percent at $39.91 a barrel, as data showed a drawdown at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery hub for US crude. Gains were curbed, however, by concerns US oil drillers could ramp up output after a two-month rally in crude.

Gold fell 0.91 percent to $1,243.60 an ounce as the dollar advanced, its third straight decline, but the metal was underpinned by expectations the ultra-low interest rate environment would persist on a global level.

Copper climbed 0.12 percent to $5,048 a tonne on expectations of stronger demand in top consumer China after a jump in imports of refined copper by the world's second-largest economy.

Sterling fell 0.73 percent to $1.4373 as worries mounted over Prime Minister David Cameron's ability to keep his Conservative party together and keep Britain in the European Union after Iain Duncan Smith, a leading voice for the UK to exit the EU, resigned from the cabinet late on Friday.

The euro slipped 0.24 percent to trade at $1.124.


Updated Date: Mar 22, 2016 08:01 AM

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