Forget gridlock, Republican win may be better for stock market

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Noel Randewich

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that his favorite measure of success, the stock market, is imperiled if voters favor Democrats in next week’s congressional elections.

While not fully accurate – stocks tend to rise regardless of who controls the government – it does bear out that the market has delivered a slightly stronger performance on average when Republicans dominate in Washington.

A Reuters analysis of the past half-century shows stocks fared better in the two calendar years after congressional elections when Republicans control Congress and the presidency than when Democrats controlled the two branches, and at least as well as during times of gridlock. Many investors are now hoping for a continuation of the Republican agenda.

“There is Trump ‘the person’, who is very controversial,” said Stephen Massocca, Senior Vice President at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco. “And there’s also Trump ‘the agenda’. The Trump agenda, the stock market loves. To the extent it continues, the market will like that.”

Republicans traditionally push pro-business policies such as tax cuts and deregulation, which boost stock prices. The market has, on the whole, given Trump a thumbs-up, with the market rising almost 20 percent during his presidency so far.

Polls show strong chances that the Democratic Party may win control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections after two years of wielding no practical political power in Washington, with Republicans likely to keep the Senate.

Trump warned in a tweet on Tuesday that a change in Congress would be bad for the market, saying: “If you want your Stocks to go down, I strongly suggest voting Democrat.”

Investors often favor Washington gridlock because it preserves the status quo and reduces uncertainty.

“Traditionally, gridlock is good for the markets. But I think this election is very tricky; I’m not sure that’s the preferred market outcome because a lot of the benefits of the past two years have come from not being in a gridlock environment,” said Mike O’Rourke, Chief Market Strategist at JonesTrading.

Should his fellow Republicans maintain or extend their grip on Congress, Trump may be emboldened to pursue more of his political agenda, including further tax overhauls.

By contrast, Democratic gains that allow the party to control the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate, could stifle Trump’s policy aims and perhaps lead to attempts to impeach him. It could also lead to resistance to increasing the government’s debt limit next year.

“Our economists believe that two likely consequences of a divided Congress would be an increase in investigations and uncertainty surrounding fiscal deadlines, which could raise equity volatility,” Goldman Sachs said in a report this week.

Over the past 50 years, gridlock has been the norm rather than the exception in Washington, with the presidency and Congress won by one party in just seven out of 25 congressional election year.

Looking at the two calendar years following each congressional election, the S&P 500 had a mean annual increase of 12 percent under Republican-controlled governments, compared to an increase of 9 percent for Democrat-controlled governments and a 7 percent rise for gridlocked governments.

However, using median averages, which exclude outliers, differences are less clear, with the S&P 500 seeing annual increases of 11 percent under Republican-controlled governments and under gridlock, and 10 percent gains under Democrat-controlled governments.

An analysis by BTIG brokerage of data going back to 1928 also indicates gridlock is not necessarily ideal. It showed U.S. stocks performing better under united governments.

“While government control is by no means the sole determinant of market performance, investors clearly favor a unified regime,” BTIG strategist Julian Emanuel wrote in his report.

Interest rates, economic growth, company earnings and inflation are widely viewed as strong influences on stock prices, making the balance of power in Washington just one of many factors affecting investor sentiment.

Two Democratic presidents – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – have presided over the strongest S&P 500 performances http://tmsnrt.rs/2jtEpzi since 1952, with gains of 208 percent and 166 percent, respectively.

Wall Street has applauded Trump since he took power in January 2017 and quickly pushed through measures to deregulate banks and other companies. Last December, his Republican party passed sweeping corporate tax cuts that have S&P 500 companies on track this year to grow their earnings per share by over 20 percent, the biggest jump since 2010, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

“Volatility may rise regardless of the outcome, but, based on historical relationships, equities may be more likely to rise if Republicans manage to maintain control of Congress,” Deutsche Bank said in a recent report.

(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Wall Street enters third day of gains as trade fears ease

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Sruthi Shankar

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks rose on Monday, with bank stocks leading third day of gains in a row after strong U.S. jobs data from last week helped investors brush aside trade concerns.

The S&P financial index rose 1.3 percent, providing the biggest boost to the main S&P index. But gains were widespread, with technology, energy, industrials, consumer discretionary and healthcare stocks rising.

The United States and China engaged in tit-for-tat tariffs on Friday, both countries imposing duties worth $34 billion on each others’ goods. But the benchmark S&P 500 closed up 0.84 percent on Friday as many analysts said the move was already priced in, but warned that further escalation could dent the appetite for stocks.

China’s securities regulator said on Sunday it plans to ease restrictions on foreign investment in stocks listed on the Shanghai or Shenzhen exchanges to attract more foreign capital and support the economy.

The sentiment was largely upbeat after Friday’s U.S. payrolls report showed tame wages and more people looking for work, boosting optimism that the Federal Reserve would stay on a path of gradual interest rate increases.

“Last Friday’s gains managed to put a positive patina on what was otherwise a rather unimpressive week for equity investors,” Peter Kenney, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in New York, wrote in a note.

“That tone could serve investors well this week as we launch into Q2 earnings season.”

At 9:49 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 193.11 points, or 0.79 percent, at 24,649.59, the S&P 500 was up 15.33 points, or 0.56 percent, at 2,775.15 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 46.97 points, or 0.61 percent, at 7,735.36.

All eyes will turn to second-quarter earnings reports, with banks JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Citigroup scheduled to report on Friday.

S&P 500 companies are expected to report 21 percent growth in earnings per share for the June quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. But focus will be on any warnings companies might give about the impact of trade tariffs.

U.S.-listed shares of Chinese companies Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu climbed after KeyBanc recommendations on the stocks.

Tesla was up 1.6 percent after automotive news website Electrek reported the company hiked prices of its Model X and S cars by over $20,000 in China due to tariffs.

Groupon jumped 8.8 percent after a Recode report that the daily deals website operator was looking for a buyer.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.53-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.16-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 17 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 97 new highs and six new lows.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

South Korean trust in North jumps after feel-good summit

South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as Kim leaves after a farewell ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters

By Hyonhee Shin and Haejin Choi

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean trust in North Korea has surged since last week’s feel-good summit at which their leaders declared an end to hostilities and to work towards denuclearization of the peninsula.

A survey taken on Friday, the day North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in, showed 64.7 percent believe the North will denuclearize and keep peace. Before the summit, only 14.7 percent of those polled said they did, research agency Realmeter said on Monday.

Many South Koreans were struck by the live TV images during the summit of a smiling and joking Kim. Never before had they seen a self-deprecating and witty side to him, admitting that his country’s train system was inferior and promising he wouldn’t wake up Moon any more with early morning missile launches.

Kim seemed markedly different from former North Korean leaders – his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung, people on the street in Seoul said on Monday.

“Denuclearizing is definitely possible,” said 41-year-old Kim Jin-han. The North Korean leader “talked about his country’s weaknesses, such as the infrastructure. He was very open about that. This is very different from the previous leaders. So I think he is ready to wholly give up nuclear weapons.”

Kim’s comments about bringing Pyongyang-style cold noodles to the summit banquet clearly captivated many in the South, prompting some to add his face to the photo of a popular app for a food delivery service, holding a bowl of noodles under his arm.

One social media post getting attention said that with a successful summit, South Korea should brace for an onslaught of North Korean beer as the first wave of “cultural aggression”. A parody showed a South Korean news announcer reporting that Kim complaining about watery South Korean beer compared to Taedonggang Beer featured in the background.

South Korea’s stock market got a boost on Monday, lifted by shares of construction companies and train and steel manufacturers on hopes for joint economic projects.

NEXT SUMMIT

A euphoric mood also enveloped the presidential Blue House on Monday as Moon was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation by scores of aides and staff.

“I am confident a new era of peace will unfold on the Korean peninsula,” Moon told his aides, asking them to quickly follow up on the agreements made in Friday’s declaration.

The two sides are technically still at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Moon’s approval rating after the summit rose to 70 percent, Realmeter said, its highest since mid-January.

Moon also told aides that U.S. President Donald Trump deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to end the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, a South Korean official said.

“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” Moon told aides, according to a Blue House official who briefed the press.

In January, Moon had said Trump “deserves big credit” for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, saying it may have come from “U.S.-led sanctions and pressure.”

Friday’s final declaration, however, leaves many questions unanswered, particularly what “denuclearization” means or how that will be achieved. Much hinges on Kim’s upcoming summit with Trump, who said it could happen in the next three to four weeks.

Any deal with the United States will require that North Korea demonstrate “irreversible” steps to shutting down its nuclear weapons program, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

A flurry of diplomacy is unfolding in the lead-up to that meeting, with China saying it will send the government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, to North Korea on Wednesday and Thursday this week. China is the North’s main ally.

And over the weekend, South Korea’s spy chief visited Tokyo to brief Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

NO MORE SPEAKERS

In initial small steps towards reconciliation, South Korea said on Monday it would remove loudspeakers that blared propaganda across the border, while North Korea said it would shift its clocks to align with its southern neighbor.

South Korea turned off the loudspeakers that broadcast a mixture of news, Korean pop songs and criticism of the North Korean regime as a goodwill gesture ahead of the summit. It will begin removing the speakers on Tuesday.

“We see this as the easiest first step to build military trust,” South Korean defense ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo said. “We are expecting the North’s implementation.”

North Korea will shift its time zone 30 minutes earlier to align with South Korea, starting May 5, state media reported on Monday.

The KCNA dispatch said the decision came after Kim found it “a painful wrench” to see two clocks showing different times on a wall at the summit venue.

The northern time zone was created in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule after World War Two. South Korea and Japan are in the same time zone, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Kim also told Moon during the summit he would soon invite experts and journalists from the United States and South Korea when the country dismantles its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, the Blue House said on Sunday.

North Korea has conducted all six of its nuclear tests at the site, a series of tunnels dug into the mountains in the northeastern part of the country. Some experts and researchers have speculated that the most recent – and by far largest – blast in September had rendered the entire site unusable.

But Kim said there were two additional, larger tunnels that remain “in very good condition” beyond the existing one, which experts believe may have collapsed.

(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL and Matthew Miller in BEIJING. Writing by Malcolm Foster. Editing by Lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie)

Nasdaq surges at open after strong Amazon, Microsoft earnings

(Reuters) – The tech-heavy Nasdaq opened 1 percent higher on Friday after stellar results from Amazon, Microsoft and Intel, while a 3 percent drop in Exxon weighed on the Dow and S&P.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 19.80 points, or 0.08 percent, at the open to 24,342.14. The S&P 500 opened higher by 8.53 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,675.47. The Nasdaq Composite gained 76.84 points, or 1.08 percent, to 7,195.52 at the opening bell.

(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

Explainer: Rising U.S. inflation and what it means for markets

A man unloads vegetables at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, California, March 9, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

By Chuck Mikolajczak and Lucia Mutikani

(Reuters) – U.S. financial markets have been roiled recently by something neither the economy nor investors have had to contend with for the better part of a decade: concerns they may soon have to reckon with rising inflation.

The S&P 500.is down more than 7 percent from its lifetime high hit on Jan. 26 through Feb. 13, after falling as much as 10.2 percent, and yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note have climbed to a four-year high, largely due to inflation worries.

What exactly is inflation, aside from a rise in prices for goods and services, and why is it having such a strong influence on markets?

Inflation is measured in a number of ways by various government agencies, and as long as the economy continues to expand it will be a consideration for markets.

Investors will get the latest inflation data on Thursday with the monthly Producer Price Index.

WHAT IS INFLATION AND HOW IS IT MEASURED?

While inflation decreases consumer purchasing power, a certain level of inflation is considered a reflection of a strengthening economy and the impact on consumers can be offset by rising wages.

The U.S. government publishes several inflation measures on a monthly and quarterly basis. The main measures are the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price indexes. The CPI and PCE are constructed differently and perform differently over time.

The monthly CPI, compiled by the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services. The BLS data is based on spending patterns of consumers and wage earners, although it excludes rural residents and members of the Armed Forces.

CPI measures the prices that consumers pay for frequently purchased items. The components are weighted to reflect their relative importance, with the weightings derived from household surveys. Some of the components of the CPI basket such as food and energy can be volatile. Stripping out food and energy from the CPI gives us the core CPI, seen as a measure of the underlying inflation trend.

The January reading on consumer prices released on Wednesday showed prices rose more than expected, up 0.5 percent versus the 0.3 percent expectation. The core reading rose 0.3 percent against the 0.2 percent forecast. Both numbers increased from the 0.2 percent reading for December.

Another reading is the Producer Price Index (PPI), which measures prices from the seller’s point of view.

The Federal Reserve, whose mandate includes price stability along with maximum employment, prefers the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price indexes constructed by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. PCE is considered to be more comprehensive because it includes some components that are excluded from the CPI. According to the BEA, the PCE reflects the price of expenditures made by and on behalf of households. Weights are derived from business surveys.

Housing has a greater weighting in the CPI than in the PCE index. The weighting for medical care is greater in the PCE price index than in the CPI. As with CPI, food and energy components of the PCE are volatile. Stripping them out yields the core PCE, which measures the underlying inflation trend. The core PCE is the Fed’s preferred measure for its 2 percent inflation target.

WHAT SPARKED THE RECENT INFLATION WORRY?

The government’s monthly employment report for January, released on Feb. 2, showed wages posted their largest annual gain in more than 8-1/2 years, suggesting the economy was moving closer to full employment and inflation was on the horizon.

If the economy continues to gain momentum, inflation is likely to rise further toward the Fed’s 2 percent target.

There is concern, however, that the recent U.S. tax overhaul by the Trump administration, which slashed the corporate income tax rate and cut personal income tax rates, could cause an economy that may be nearing full capacity to overheat and prompt the Fed to become more aggressive than anticipated in its course of interest rate hikes.

Markets are pricing in an 87.5 percent chance of a quarter-point increase at the U.S. central bank’s next policy meeting in March. The Fed has forecast three hikes this year, after raising rates three times in 2017.

Some market participants are unsure about how swiftly the Fed will react to inflation and market turbulence under its new chair, Jerome Powell. The March meeting will be the first since Powell took over from Janet Yellen. Recent comments from some Fed officials suggested the possibility of more hikes should the economy continue to strengthen.

HOW HAS INFLATION AFFECTED MARKETS?

Many analysts believe the stock market was overdue for a pullback because valuations, as measured against corporate earnings, have been rich by historic standards, and that the employment data showed economic fundamentals underpinning stocks are strong. Inflation has yet to rise to concerning levels, and as long as the pace remains modest, stocks have room to climb.

Healthy economic growth, along with U.S. deficit spending and moves by central banks around the world to lift interest rates from ultra-low levels, has driven U.S. bond yields to a four-year high. Rising yields could dent the attractiveness of high dividend-paying stocks to investors and trigger increased borrowing costs for U.S. companies and households, which could crimp economic growth.

The initial reaction to the CPI data on Wednesday was sharp, with S&P 500 e-mini futures <ESc1> falling to a session low of 2,627 while yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year note <US10YT=RR> rose as high as 2.891 percent. The dollar initially spiked higher against a basket of major currencies <.DXY> before weakening.

However, stocks recovered and turned positive shortly after the opening bell and yields on the 10-year note eased.

A strengthening currency would normally go hand-in-hand with an improving economy, yet the U.S. dollar is near four-year lows even after a recent uptick. Some of the weakness has been attributed to anticipation of scaling back in stimulus measures by central banks other than the Fed.

If the U.S. economy fails to show any meaningful uptick in inflation as currently feared, that could tie the Fed’s hands when it comes to interest rate hikes and drag the dollar lower.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Additional reporting by Richard Leong; Editing by Alden Bentley and Leslie Adler)

U.S. Stocks plunge in highly volatile trading: S&P 500 erases 2018’s gains

A trader watches his screens on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., February 5, 2018.

By Lewis Krauskopf

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks plunged in highly volatile trading on Monday, with the Dow industrials falling nearly 1,600 points during the session, its biggest intraday decline in history, as investors grappled with rising bond yields and potentially firming inflation.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the Dow suffered their biggest percentage drops since August 2011 as a long-awaited pullback from record highs deepened.

The financial, healthcare and industrial sectors fell the most, but declines were spread broadly as all major 11 S&P groups dropped at least 1.7 percent. All 30 of the blue-chip Dow industrial components finished negative.

With Monday’s declines, the S&P 500 erased its gains for 2018 and is now down 0.9 percent in 2018.

Many investors have been bracing for a pullback for months, as the stock market has minted record high after record high with investors encouraged by solid economic data and corporate earnings prospects, the latter bolstered by recently passed U.S. corporate tax cuts.

Friday’s January jobs report sparked worries over inflation and a surge in bond yields, as well as concerns that the Federal Reserve will raise rates at a faster pace than expected.

“The market has had an incredible run,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist At JonesTrading In Greenwich, Connecticut.

“We have an environment where interest rates are rising. We have a stronger economy so the Fed should continue to tighten … You’re seeing real changes occur and different investments are adjusting to that,” O’Rourke said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,175.21 points, or 4.6 percent, to 24,345.75, the S&P 500 lost 113.19 points, or 4.10 percent, to 2,648.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 273.42 points, or 3.78 percent, to 6,967.53.

The S&P 500 ended 7.8 percent down from its record high on Jan. 26, with the Dow down 8.5 percent over that time.

Even with the sharp declines, stocks finished above their lows touched during the session. At one point, the Dow fell 6.3 percent or 1,597 points, the biggest one-day points loss ever, as it breached both the 25,000 and 24,000 levels during trading.

The stock market has climbed to record peaks since President Donald Trump’s election and remains up 23.8 percent since his victory. Trump has frequently touted the rise of the stock market during his presidency.

As the stock market fell on Monday, the White House said the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong.

The CBOE Volatility index, the closely followed measure of expected near-term stock market volatility, jumped 20 points to 30.71, its highest level since August 2015.

Until recently, gains for stocks have come as the market has been relatively subdued, and any declines were met with buyers looking for bargains.

“People who have been buying the dip are now going to be selling the rip,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. “The psychology of the market changed today. It’ll take a while to get that psychology back.”

About 11.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, well above the 7.6 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 8.64-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 6.92-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 1 new 52-week highs and 38 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 17 new highs and 164 new lows. 37.32

(Additional reporting by Megan Davies, Sinead Carew, Caroline Valetkevitch and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York, Noel Randewich in San Francisco and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski)

Wall St. set to rise at open as tax reform enters last lap

Wall St. set to rise at open as tax reform enters last lap

By Rama Venkat Raman

(Reuters) – Wall Street was poised to open higher on Thursday, aided by gains for banking shares and news that the Republicans’ tax code overhaul should face final votes in Congress before the year-end.

A final bill could be formally unveiled on Friday, with decisive votes expected next week in both chambers.

On Wednesday, Republicans in the Senate and the House reached a deal on final tax legislation, paving the way for final votes next week on a package that would slash the corporate tax rate to 21 percent.

“We have a pretty positive background, investors are focused on the tax deal that they are closed to an agreement between the House and the Senate,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It will take some time to go through the details, what that means for specific companies but it’s consistent with the general positive tone.”

Traders also focused on a $52.4 billion stock deal between Walt Disney <DIS.N> and Twenty-First Century Fox <FOXA.O>.

Shares of media baron Rupert Murdoch’s Fox fell marginally in choppy trading after Walt Disney agreed to buy the Fox’s film, television and international businesses. Disney shares were also down 0.9 percent.

Goldman Sachs <GS.N>, JPMorgan <JPM.N>, Wells Fargo <WFC.N> and Bank of America <BAC.N> rose between 0.52 percent and 0.86 percent ahead of market open.

Shares of big banks recovered early in the day from an initial decline after the Federal Reserve raised rates by 25 basis points but kept its outlook for 2018 and 2019 unchanged.

At 8:34 a.m. ET (1334 GMT), Dow e-minis <1YMc1> were up 32 points, or 0.13 percent, with 8,450 contracts changing hands.

S&P 500 e-minis <ESc1> were up 1.5 points, or 0.06 percent, with 69,766 contracts traded.

Nasdaq 100 e-minis <NQc1> were up 6 points, or 0.09 percent, on volume of 7,313 contracts.

U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in November as the holiday shopping season got off to a brisk start, pointing to sustained strength in the economy.

A Commerce Department report showed retail sales rose 0.8 percent in November, while economists polled by Reuters has forecast a 0.3 percent rise.

Among other big movers, Express Scripts <ESRX.O> gained about 2 percent after pharmacy benefit manager forecast full-year 2018 earnings that topped analysts’ expectations.

U.S.-listed shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals <VRX.N> fell 4.2 percent after JPMorgan cut the stock’s rating to ‘underweight’.

Israel-based drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical’s <TEVA.N> shares soared 15 percent after the company announced job cuts, asset sale and dividend suspension in an overhaul to pay back debt.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

Lucky 13? Stocks score longest run of monthly gains on record

Lucky 13? Stocks score longest run of monthly gains on record

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – A dive in high-flying U.S. tech stocks on worries their boom may have peaked left investors wondering on Thursday whether the longest global equity bull run in living memory might be starting to splutter.

The caution was sparked by another Wall Street wobble involving a rotation from tech to financials which came just as the near 9-year global rally prepared to notch up another impressive milestone.

The world’s broadest equity gauge – the MSCI all-country index – was on course to finish November with its 13th straight monthly gain on Thursday – the longest winning streak in the index’s 30-year history. Lucky for some.

Though the celebrations were muffled by the tech problems – Samsung and China stocks had also taken another tumble in Asian trading [.SS] – the mood improved again in Europe.

Germany’s Dax <.GDAX> and France’s CAC 40 <.FCHI> both inched up for a third day, and though London’s FTSE <.FTSE> lagged as hopes of a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations pushed the pound higher again, Wall Street futures <ESc1> pointed to U.S. rebound later. [.N] [GBP/]

The latest Reuters global asset poll showed the majority of investors expect shares to keep rising. Robeco strategist Peter van der Welle was one of those, despite noting the market was “playing in extra time”.

“In the absence of a near-term recession trigger, current stretched equity valuations do yet not instil enough fear to change overall market direction,” he said.

Possibly feeding the tech concerns was a Morgan Stanley report earlier this week that the “super-cycle” in memory chip demand looks likely to peak soon.

Shares of Amazon.com <AMZN.O>, Apple <AAPL.O>, Google parent Alphabet <GOOGL.O> Facebook <FB.O> and Netflix <NFLX.O> slid between 2 percent and 5.5 percent on Wednesday. [.N] Asia’s bellwether Samsung <005930.KS> then slumped 4.3 percent to two-month lows.

Tech nerves were not just confined to stocks. Rocketing cryptocurrency Bitcoin <BTC=BTSP> dropped a cool $1,000 to a low of $9,250 before spending European hours pinballing between $9,700 and $10,100.

For perspective, though, the Nasdaq index is still up 26.8 percent so far this year, roughly 7 percentage points more than the MSCI world <.MIWD00000PUS>. For Bitcoin it is a mind-boggling 950 percent. http://tmsnrt.rs/2zJqD6m

“It is true that if you look at the world’s semiconductor sales on chart, their year-on-year growth appears to be peaking out,” said Hiroshi Watanabe, an economist at Sony Financial Holdings. “But if you look at what’s driving demand, it’s not just smart phones and actually a lot of things.”

DOLLAR IN THE DOLDRUMS

In the more mainstream FX markets, the U.S. dollar climbed to 112.25 yen <JPY=>, held its ground versus the euro <EUR> but fell to a two-month low of $1.3480 to the resurgent pound <GBP=>. Measured against major peers the dollar is headed for biggest monthly drop since July. [FRX]

The U.S. Senate took a step on Wednesday toward passage of tax legislation that is a top White House priority, setting up a likely decisive but finely-balanced vote later this week.

Investors also seem to have grown cautious about the outlook of the world’s biggest economy and there are growing signs that it certainly won’t be the only country raising interest rates.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management global head of rates David Tan predicted on Thursday that there will be some 1,000 rate hikes globally over the next decade.

“The current period of economic expansion has therefore been extraordinarily long, almost 10 years and counting, but we know that the days of super low global central bank rates are in the process of coming to an end,” he said.

Borrowing costs in Germany, the euro zone’s benchmark bond issuer, rose to their highest in just over two weeks. The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield climbed too, reaching 2.3859 percent <US10YT=RR> to near this month’s high of 2.414 percent.

There was no market response after U.S. President Donald Trump nominated Carnegie Mellon University professor Marvin Goodfriend, viewed as a policy hawk, to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Oil meanwhile moved higher again as OPEC meet in Vienna to debate an extension of the group’s supply-cut agreement.

While the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and key non-member Russia look set to prolong oil supply cuts until the end of 2018, they have signaled that they may review the deal when they meet again in June if the market overheats.

U.S. crude futures <CLc1> traded at $57.72 per barrel in European trade, up 1.4 percent, while Brent futures <LCOc1> rose 0.7 percent to just over $64 a barrel. [O/R]

(Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Mark Heinrich)

U.S. consumer prices edge up; retail sales unexpectedly increase

U.S. consumer prices edge up; retail sales unexpectedly increase

By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer prices barely rose in October as the boost to gasoline prices from hurricane-related disruptions to Gulf Coast oil refineries was unwound, but rising rents and healthcare costs pointed to a gradual buildup of underlying inflation.

Low inflation is, however, helping to underpin consumer spending. Other data on Wednesday showed an unexpected increase in retail sales last month as heavy price discounting by automobile manufacturers lifted purchases of motor vehicles.

Rising retail sales and steadily firming underlying price pressures likely will keep the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates next month.

The Labor Department said its Consumer Price Index edged up 0.1 percent last month after jumping 0.5 percent in September. That lowered the year-on-year increase in the CPI to 2.0 percent from 2.2 percent in September. The increases were in line with economists’ expectations.

Gasoline prices fell 2.4 percent after surging 13.1 percent in September, which was the largest gain since June 2009. September’s jump in gasoline prices followed Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas in late August and disrupted production at oil refineries in the Gulf Coast region.

Food prices were unchanged after nudging up 0.1 percent in September. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in October amid a pickup in the cost of rental accommodation, healthcare costs, tobacco and a range of other goods and services.

The so-called core CPI gained 0.1 percent in September. October’s increase lifted the year-on-year increase in the core CPI to 1.8 percent. The year-on-year core CPI had increased by 1.7 percent for five straight months.

The slight pickup in the monthly core CPI could offer some comfort to Fed officials amid concerns that stubbornly low inflation might reflect not only temporary factors but developments that could prove more persistent.

The Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, has consistently undershot the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target for more than five years. The Fed has lifted borrowing costs twice this year and has projected three rate increases in 2018.

Prices of U.S. Treasuries fell and the U.S. dollar <.DXY> pared losses against a basket of currencies after the data. U.S. stock index futures extended losses.

RENTS, HEALTHCARE COSTS RISE

Last month, owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence climbed 0.3 percent, quickening after September’s 0.2 percent increase. The cost of hospital services increased 0.5 percent and prices for doctor visits rose 0.2 percent. There were also increases in prices for wireless phone services, airline fares, education and motor vehicle insurance.

Prices for used cars and trucks rose 0.7 percent, ending nine straight months of declines. New motor vehicle prices, however, fell for a second consecutive month as manufacturers resorted to deep discounting to eliminate an inventory overhang.

In a separate report on Wednesday, the Commerce Department said retail sales increased 0.2 percent last month. Data for September was revised to show sales jumping 1.9 percent, which was the largest gain since March 2015, rather than the previously reported 1.6 percent advance.

Retail sales increased 4.6 percent on an annual basis.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast that retail sales would be unchanged in October. The slowdown in retail sales last month from September’s robust pace largely reflected an unwinding of the boost to building materials and gasoline prices after recent hurricanes.

Receipts at auto dealerships increased 0.7 percent after soaring 4.6 percent in September, supported by the deep price discounting by manufacturers. Sales at gardening and building material stores fell 1.2 percent last month after surging 3.0 percent in September.

Receipts at service stations decreased 1.2 percent in October. That followed a 6.4 percent gain in September. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.3 percent last month after climbing 0.5 percent in September.

These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Last month’s increase in core retail sales indicated a healthy pace of consumer spending at the start of the fourth quarter.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, increased at a 2.4 percent annualized rate in the third quarter.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Paul Simao)

Global stocks dip on U.S. tax reform doubt; no respite in havens

Global stocks dip on U.S. tax reform doubt; no respite in havens

By Trevor Hunnicutt

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global stock indexes and the U.S. dollar cooled off Friday as signs that U.S. tax reform could be delayed impeded the market’s momentum.

MSCI’s global stock index <.MIWD00000PUS>, which tracks shares in 47 countries, declined 0.15 percent, slipping further from a record level. On Thursday, the global index fell 0.4 percent following 10 straight days of gains. The dollar index <.DXY>, too, fell 0.06 percent.

The MSCI world index surged more than 20 percent so far this year, and some investors believe a pullback is due.

“The pause that the market is currently in is directly related to what’s going on from a tax standpoint,” said Jim McDonald, chief investment strategist for Northern Trust Corp.

Adding insult to injury, the pullback in stocks as well as softness in high-yield “junk” bonds this week did little to support traditional safe havens.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes <US10YT=RR> fell 21/32 in price to yield 2.4037 percent. The 30-year bond <US30YT=RR> fell 50/32 in price to yield 2.8845 percent. [US/]

Meanwhile, German government bond yields climbed to their highest in over a week as euro zone bonds were sold across the board for a second consecutive day. The yield on Germany’s benchmark 10-year government bond <DE10YT=TWEB> hit 0.40 percent for the first time since Oct. 27.

Spot gold <XAU=> dropped 0.7 percent to $1,275.61 an ounce. Gold pays no interest, so demand for it wanes when bonds offer higher yields. [GOL/]

Citigroup Inc equity trading strategist Alex Altmann said it is rare for government bonds and equities to be hit at the same time.

“It’s a classic hallmark of momentum strategies unwinding,” he said, referring to a investment strategy that favors buying recent winners and selling losers.

“We may not get that calm ride into the end of the year.”

Coal producer Canyon Consolidated Resources became the second junk-rated company to pull a bond sale this week, on Friday, capping a bout of volatility in credit markets.

TAX OVERHAUL

U.S. Republican senators said they wanted to slash the corporate tax rate in 2019, later than the House’s proposed schedule of 2018, complicating a push for the biggest overhaul of U.S. tax law since the 1980s.

The House was set to vote on its measure next week. But the Senate’s timetable was less clear.

“I would say a compromise will be reached,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

“But if they indeed decide to delay the tax cut by a year, there is likely to be some disappointment.”

Wall Street retreated a bit on concern over delays in corporate tax cuts, which would hike profits, though a rise in some media and industrial stocks limited the slide. [.N]

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 39.73 points, or 0.17 percent, to 23,422.21, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 2.32 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,582.3 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 0.89 point, or 0.01 percent, to 6,750.94.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> index suffered its worst week in three months, down 0.4 percent on Friday and falling for a fourth day in row. [.EU]

“There’s a feeling out there that there’s a long-awaited correction, and no one wants to be caught by surprise,” said Emmanuel Cau, global equity strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Crude was down as expectations the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers will extend their production cut agreement were offset by U.S. drillers adding the most oil rigs in a week since June, indicating output will continue to grow. [O/R]

U.S. crude <CLcv1> fell 0.56 percent to $56.85 per barrel and Brent <LCOcv1> was last at $63.61, down 0.5 percent on the day.

Bitcoin <BTC=> dropped below $7,000 on Friday to trade more than $1,000 down from an all-time high hit on Wednesday, as some traders dumped it for a clone called Bitcoin Cash.

(For a graphic on ‘Major MSCI Indexes Price Performance YTD’ click http://reut.rs/2zqsj4B)

(Additional reporting by Kit Rees and Helen Reid in London and Hideuyki Sano in Tokyo; Editing by Jennifer Ablan and James Dalgleish)