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Global shares higher as Fed begins meeting and Japan hikes rates

The Bank of Japan made a widely expected move away from years of ultra-loose monetary policy (Kazuhiro NOGI)
The Bank of Japan made a widely expected move away from years of ultra-loose monetary policy (Kazuhiro NOGI)

US and European shares advanced Tuesday, with the S&P 500 notching a fresh record as the US Federal Reserve began a policy making meeting and Japan raised interest rates for the first time in 17 years.

After a positive day on European bourses, all three major Wall Street indices climbed, shrugging off a lackluster open.

The Federal Open Markets Committee on Tuesday began two days of discussions, where policymakers are expected to hold firm on interest rates. But investors will paying attention Wednesday for indications about the Fed's latest thinking.

While investors still expect interest rates to come down at some point this year, recent hotter-than-expected inflation reports have created some doubt in the current consensus that the Fed would commence easing in June.

"Just as the Bank of Japan finally gets around to raising interest rates, investors are still hoping that the US Federal Reserve will cut them," said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

"Chair Jay Powell and his colleagues on the FOMC are moving more slowly than markets had expected, and that is because US inflation is proving more resilient and stickier than expected. This recalibration of expectations is not guaranteed to derail the equity bull market," he said.

In London, Unilever closed up more than three percent after announcing plans to spin off its ice cream operations and slash thousands of jobs.

German investor confidence surged more than expected in March, a key survey showed Tuesday, helping to lift continental shares.

The Bank of Japan's rate increase was its first since 2007, moving them out of negative territory.

The announcement cheered Japanese stock market investors but the yen fell more than one percent against the dollar after policymakers indicated no further hike was expected in the near term.

Rising prices and wages had finally given the BoJ space to pivot from a policy that has been an outlier in the global economy, where other countries have ramped up borrowing costs to combat inflation.

The bank's move "had a 'dovish hike' written all over it and the yen slumped across the board, most notably against the US dollar," said Fawad Razaqzada, analyst at FOREX.com.

- Key figures around 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 39,110.76 (close)  

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.6 percent at 5,178.51 (close)

New York - Nasdaq Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 16,166.79 (close) 

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,738.30 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.7 percent at 8,201.05 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.3 percent at 17,987.49 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 5,007.92 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 40,003.60 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.2 percent at 16,529.48 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,062.76 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 150.88 yen from 149.15 yen on Monday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0867 from $1.0872

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2721 from $1.2729

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.40 pence from 85.41 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.9 percent at $83.47 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.6 percent at $87.38 per barrel

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