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Upbeat US retailers boost global stocks

·3-min read
Markets were encouraged by a sharper-than-expected increase in US consumer spending (AFP/Brandon Bell)

A raft of good news about the US economy, including stronger-than-expected retail sales data, boosted stocks worldwide on Tuesday, even as inflation concerns persist.

All three major Wall Street indices closed with solid gains as traders cheered reports showing consumers spent with abandon in October as homebuilders remain upbeat and auto production rebounded.

That followed positive closes in Europe and Asia, while the dollar strengthened and gold and oil retreated.

The 1.7 percent jump in US retail sales last month combined with solid earnings reports from big-box chains Walmart and Home Depot speak to the heady attitude of consumers in the world's largest economy despite global supply chain snarls that have fueled inflation and created shortages.

The retail sales data "was good enough to get the market in the green because we know people are still spending," said Kim Forrest of Bokeh Capital Partners.

That countered the gloom from last week when spiking prices in major economies raised concerns that central banks would clamp down more aggressively on inflation and potentially slow the recovery.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell have indicated policymakers do not have to act immediately to raise interest rates, though Powell has said the US central bank could move more quickly to remove its stimulus bond-buying program.

But in comments Tuesday, James Bullard, president of the Fed's St. Louis branch, said the policy committee should "tack more hawkish" in coming meetings.

He told Bloomberg Television the Fed's gradual tapering process "could move faster."

In contrast, San Francisco Fed chief Mary Daly warned against reacting to price pressures that don't persist.

"Reacting in response to things that aren't likely to last will move us farther from -- not closer to -- our goals," she said in a speech.

In Britain, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey on Monday told British lawmakers that he felt "very uneasy" about high inflation, prompting some analysts to forecast a December rate hike.

But in the eurozone, Lagarde on Monday dismissed talk of potential higher rates in 2023 as premature.

- Pipeline delayed -

In Germany, a regulator said it was temporarily halting the approval process for Russia's controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, seen by Berlin as guaranteeing energy supply but by the country's allies as a potential tool for Russian blackmail.

The certification procedure "will remain suspended until the main assets and human resources" have been transferred from the Nord Stream 2 parent company to its German subsidiary, the energy regulator said.

The move sent natural gas prices surging as much as 12 percent before falling back to add around 2.5 percent.

- Key figures around 2130 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent to 36,142.22 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.4 percent to 4,700.9 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.8 percent at 15,973.86 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 7,326.97 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.6 percent at 16,247.86 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 7,152.60 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 4,402.04 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 29,808.12 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.3 percent at 25,713.78 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,521.79 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1317 from $1.1373 at 2140 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3425 from $1.3414

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.28 pence from 84.76 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 114.80 yen from 114.12 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.5 percent at $82.48 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.2 percent at $80.74 per barrel

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