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Powell Signals Rate Cut Likely at Meeting This Month
Topic of the day
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy faced a favorable outlook despite significant risks from weaker global growth and trade uncertainty, and he cited the central bank's turn toward providing more stimulus this year as an important reason for that outlook. "The Fed has through the course of the year seen fit to lower the expected path of interest rates. That has supported the economy," Mr. Powell said during a moderated discussion in Zurich on Friday. "That's one of the reasons why the outlook is still a favorable one despite these crosswinds we've been facing." Mr. Powell's comments implicitly acknowledged that investors' expectations of easier Fed policy this year have buoyed financial markets and business sentiment and that failing to deliver at least partly on those expectations could damage that outlook. After cutting their benchmark interest rate in July by a quarter percentage point, officials are gearing up to cut rates again, likely by another quarter point, at their Sept. 17-18 policy meeting. Mr. Powell offered little to push back against those expectations on Friday, the last day before officials' pre-meeting quiet period begins. Earlier Friday, the Labor Department reported the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7% in August. Employers added 130,000 jobs, though that included 25,000 temporary government hires for the coming census count. The share of Americans who had a job also rose. While the pace of hiring has slowed considerably over the past year, "our labor market is in quite a strong position," Mr. Powell said. He also batted down worries that the economy could be heading into a downturn. "We're not forecasting or expecting a recession," Mr. Powell said.
The SMI continued its recent rally Friday and rose 0.9 percent to 10,074 points, thus closing above the 10,000 points mark for the first time since mid-July. Good political and economic news had buoyed the market on the previous two days. On Friday, even weak US labour market data were unable to dampen the mood. Yet investors because more cautious, as evidenced by demand for the lower-risk defensive heavyweights. Nestle, Novartis and Roche each rose about 1 percent after having played second fiddle to cyclical stocks on the previous two days. Cyclical stocks had benefited from the upbeat market sentiment. Luxury goods stocks were unable to repeat their stellar performance of the two previous days,but nonetheless rose. Swatch gained 0.5 percent and Richemont 1 percent on easing tensions in the political crisis in Hong Kong and the US-China trade dispute. Both countries have a strong China presence. Bank stocks were also in demand. Credit Suisse rose 0.9 percent and UBS 0.7 percent.
European stocks were mostly higher, with the Stoxx Europe 600 closing up 0.2%. London stocks closed higher as the pound weakened against the U.S. dollar. The FTSE 100 rose 0.2% to 7282.34, ending the week 1.0% higher. Irish paper and packaging company Smurfit Kappa Group topped the blue-chip gainers, up 3.4%. U.K. utility stocks were among the biggest fallers of the FTSE 100 as United Utilities led the losers, down 2.9%, followed by Severn Trent, Centrica and SSE. The French CAC was up 10.62 points, or 0.19%, while the German DAX was up 64.95 points, or 0.54%. Allianz has interesting growth potential in the U.K. property and casualty market, Credit Suisse says, as it raises its target price on the stock to EUR245 from EUR235. The German insurer's inorganic growth in that market "will turn out to be a success story, with attractive margin and growth potential," it says. The company's technology, its experience in other markets and diversification are among the positive factors the Swiss bank mentions. Shares in the German company trade 0.4% higher at EUR203.80.
U.S. stocks finished the week higher after the August jobs report showed hiring slowed in a month racked by trade threats, likely keeping the Federal Reserve on track to cut interest rates again later this month. The report underscored the delicate balance facing markets in recent months. Investors are on one hand deeply uneasy about signs economies around the world are slowing. Any threats to growth, be it from rising tariffs to political instability, can send markets reeling. On the other hand, signs of slowdown are often met with central bank interference, such as the Fed cutting short-term interest rates -- a boon for shares of U.S. companies. Investors wrestled with those competing dynamics, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 69.31 points, or 0.3%, to 26797.46. The S&P 500 rose 2.71 points, or 0.1%, to 2978.71. Weakness among technology companies dragged the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite down 13.75 points, or 0.2%, to 8103.07. All three indexes ended the week up at least 1.5%.
Japanese stocks were up slightly, led by gains in pharmaceutical and food stocks, as sluggish U.S. jobs data Friday has raised hopes for Federal Reserve's near-term easing. Traders were focusing on any economic disruption and material impact on corporate activities from the powerful typhoon Faxai that is hitting Japan. Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.4% at 21282.20 in early trade.
U.S. government bond prices rose after the Labor Department said the economy added fewer jobs than expected last month, raising new concerns about slowing growth. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell, settling at 1.552% from 1.604% before the report. The 10-year note had settled Thursday at 1.569%.
CS raises Allianz target to 245 (235) EUR - Outperform
IR raises Vossloh target to 38 (35) EUR - Hold
UBS downgrades Consus Real Estate to 7,30 (8) EUR - Neutral
IR raises Innogy target to 39,50 (36) EUR - Sell
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