S&P 500 roars back from six-day slide; bonds surge

(Bloomberg) — US stocks and Treasuries rallied on Wednesday after the Bank of England’s decision to stage a market intervention boosted UK bonds and tentatively calmed markets.

The S&P 500 snapped a six-day rout, rising the most since early last month, and for the first time since the Federal Reserve boosted rates and dialed up its hawkishness a week ago. The index jumped more than 2% later in the session, bolstered by gains in Amazon.com Inc.’s shares after the company’s annual device event on Wednesday showed it pushing further into wellness, security and the auto industry.

The 10-year US Treasury yield dropped toward 3.72% after topping 4% earlier. The yield on 30-year UK gilts plunged more than one percentage point. Oil advanced with metals. Orange juice futures spiked as Hurricane Ian barreled ashore in Southwest Florida with a massive and deadly surge of water and catastrophic winds.

Global markets enjoyed a break from the brutal selling that has gripped them since the Fed embarked on the most aggressive path of interest-rate hikes by since the 1980s. The Bank of England soothed nerves after it said it would buy long-dated government bonds in whatever quantities were needed to end the chaos caused by the government’s plans to slash taxes. 

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Fed officials remained diligent in warning that more rate-hike pain is yet to come, with Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic and Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans reinforcing the hawkish stance their colleagues have been hammering home all week.

“All eyes are on inflation and interest rates, and this renewed hawkishness or more aggressive hawkishness from the Fed has certainly sent equity markets into a period of concern here,” said Josh Emanuel, chief investment officer of investment management at Wilshire. “From this point forward, equities are really going to take their cues from bond market. So if you see bond yields move lower, that is a good sign for equities.”

Stocks may also be rising because the markets have priced in the Fed’s hawkishness, according to Adrian Helfert, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies at Westwood Holdings Group.

“It’s harder for the central bank and the speakers to say much more — short of saying that they’re going to start hiking by a hundred basis points for the next several meetings,” he said. “Maybe the market is at least now believing what the Fed is saying.”

But economists are still worried that the central bank is committing another error after being too slow to respond to inflation, since a series of jumbo hikes mean officials are not weighing the impact their actions are having on the economy.

Geopolitical tensions also continued to simmer. Natural gas prices in Europe surged after Russia said it may cut off supplies via Ukraine and the German Navy was deployed to investigate the suspected sabotage to the Nord Stream pipelines. While the European Union proposed a new round of sanctions on Russia, the growing exodus of Russians fleeing President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization order is creating turmoil at the borders with neighboring states and stirring fears about potential instability. 

Any rally in the face of these challenges “will likely be met with skepticism given the dual headwinds of rapidly slowing global growth, pressuring earnings, and increasingly tight liquidity, pressuring valuations,” said Cameron Dawson, chief investment officer at Newedge Wealth.

The dollar dropped the most in six weeks as Treasury yields fell. But its recent rally brought losses to other currencies, including the euro and onshore yuan, which tumbled to its weakest level since 2008. A regulatory body guided by the People’s Bank of China urged banks to protect the authority of the yuan fixing.

How much damage is a strong dollar causing? That’s the theme of this week’s MLIV Pulse survey. It’s brief and we don’t collect your name or any contact information. Please click here to share your views.

Key events this week:

  • Euro zone economic confidence, consumer confidence, Germany CPI, Thursday
  • US initial jobless claims, GDP, Thursday
  • Fed’s Loretta Mester, Mary Daly speak at events, Thursday
  • China PMI, Friday
  • Euro zone CPI, unemployment, Friday
  • US consumer income , University of Michigan consumer sentiment, Friday
  • Fed’s Lael Brainard and John Williams speak, Friday

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 rose 2% as of 4 p.m. New York time
  • The Nasdaq 100 rose 2%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.9%
  • The MSCI World index fell 0.1%

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 1%
  • The euro rose 1.4% to $0.9731
  • The British pound rose 1.4% to $1.0880
  • The Japanese yen rose 0.5% to 144.14 per dollar

Cryptocurrencies

  • Bitcoin rose 2.4% to $19,534.48
  • Ether rose 0.8% to $1,335.24

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined 23 basis points to 3.72%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield declined 11 basis points to 2.12%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield declined 49 basis points to 4.01%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 4.4% to $81.96 a barrel
  • Gold futures rose 2% to $1,669.60 an ounce

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