Global equities edge higher, safe havens flat ahead of Fed meeting

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stock markets edged higher and perceived safe-haven assets were steady on Wednesday as investors awaited news from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting.

The Fed is expected to sound reassuringly accommodative at its policy review later in the day and perhaps open the door to a higher tolerance for inflation – something dollar bears think could squash real yields and sink the currency even further.

Investors are also focused on U.S. Congress and White House as they clash over new measures to replace enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefits that are due to expire on Friday.

The market consensus is that a $1 trillion support package will be agreed, said David Riley, chief investment strategist at BlueBay Asset Management.

“I think that’s a kind of bare minimum and that won’t be the last that will be needed,” he said.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.29% following modest losses in Europe and Asia.

In morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 17.42 points, or 0.07%, to 26,396.7, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 13.78 points, or 0.43%, to 3,232.22 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 74.97 points, or 0.72%, to 10,477.07.

Deaths from the novel coronavirus in the United States registered their biggest one-day increase since May on Tuesday, with this month’s spike in infections having forced some states to make a U-turn on reopening their economies.

Asia and Europe have also been hit by new surges in COVID-19 infections, with several countries imposing new restrictions and Britain imposing 14-day quarantines on travelers from Spain.

“Global stock markets appear to be starting to get a little wobbly as the latest earnings numbers start to paint a picture of a global economy that could start to face a challenging time in the weeks and months ahead,” wrote Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

“The resurgence of coronavirus cases starting to get reported across the world is prompting the realization that hopes of a V-shaped recovery are starting to look like pie in the sky.”

Traditional safe havens were mixed. Gold paused its rally, down 0.2% at $1,954.33 an ounce.

The dollar index =USD fell 0.227%, with the euro EUR= up 0.28% to $1.1747. Benchmark U.S. Treasury 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 1/32 in price to yield 0.5773%, from 0.581% late on Tuesday.

Oil prices climbed after a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories was enough to offset concerns about U.S. fuel demand, though concerns about the record increases in COVID-19 infections kept gains in check.

U.S. crude CLc1 recently rose 0.63% to $41.30 per barrel and Brent LCOc1 was at $43.72, up 1.16% on the day.

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