By Lewis Krauskopf
| NEW YORK
NEW YORK A key index of world stocks climbed to record highs while the U.S. dollar sank to a five-week low on Thursday as investors digested the recent U.S. interest rate increase and indications there would be no pick-up in the pace of monetary tightening.European stock markets gained after the Dutch election victory by Prime Minister Mark Rutte which fought off a challenge by anti-immigration, anti-European Union rival Geert Wilders. On Wall Street, major U.S. equity indexes were modestly lower after gaining sharply on Wednesday in the wake of the U.S. Federal Reserve's rate decision. Fed Chair Janet Yellen pointed to growing faith in the economy's trajectory as the U.S. central bank raised rates for the second time in three months."Certainly, the Fed was dovish in their approach," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird in Sarasota, Florida. "The fact that the Fed raised rates, but not aggressively, but yet indicated that she had confidence in the economy certainly was a big help."MSCI's all-country world stock index .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.7 percent, and hit an all-time high.The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 10.99 points, or 0.05 percent, to 20,939.11, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.53 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,381.73 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 3.11 points, or 0.05 percent, to 5,896.94.
Healthcare shares .SPXHC led U.S. declines after proposals in President Donald Trump's budget signalled higher regulatory costs for the sector and a cut in federal funding for medical research. Optimism over Trump's proposed economic agenda, including tax cuts, has driven U.S. equities to record highs.“Most of the news that you’re hearing out of Washington suggests that it’s going to be just a longer slog to get things done," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland.“Given that a lot of this rally has been predicated on the anticipation of some fairly dramatic changes in Washington, one would imagine that some investors have to be losing some faith,” McCain said.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.7 percent and touched its highest level since December 2015, helped by the Fed's dovish tone and the Dutch election results.Amsterdam's AEX index .AEX rose 0.6 percent and hit its highest in more than nine years. "Some of that fear around Brexit, Trump, and then Wilders and (France's) Le Pen, may now be seeping out of the markets - you see some of that fear dissipating," said Arne Petimezas, analyst at AFS Group in Amsterdam, referring to far-right French presidential Marine Le Pen. The dollar fell 0.2 percent against a basket of key currencies .DXY, adding to Wednesday's steep slide after the Fed's decision. It touched a five-week low.
Sterling jumped after the Bank of England kept interest rates on hold but gave a handful of hints in voting results and its minutes that it might raise them soon.U.S. Treasury yields rose from more than one-week lows on the view that they had fallen too sharply in the prior session after the Fed maintained its outlook for only a gradual pace of interest rate increases this year.Prices on benchmark 10-year Treasuries US10YT-RR fell 8/32 to yield 2.531 percent, up from 2.504 percent late on Wednesday.Oil prices were little changed in choppy trading as support from a weaker dollar was offset by a stubbornly high level of U.S. inventories.Brent crude LCOc1 edged up 0.1 percent at $51.85 a barrel. U.S. light crude CLc1 was down 0.1 percent at $48.83 a barrel. (Additional reporting by Jemima Kelly in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)
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Updated Date: Mar 17, 2017 00:30 AM