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Global stocks climb as yields pull back from earlier high

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Chuck Mikolajczak
·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: A trader works as a screen shows Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's news conference after the U.S. Federal Reserve interest rates announcement on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global stocks rose in choppy trading on Monday as investors eyed the yield on U.S. Treasuries for signs of inflation pressures in the wake of the U.S. Senate's passage of a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill.

After climbing as high as 1.613% on the session, the third time above 1.6% in the past year, yields on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note eased, removing some of the earlier pressure off equities.

"The fact they haven’t climbed back through 1.6% is encouraging, which is why you saw the market turn around," said Ken Polcari, managing partner at Kace Capital Advisors in Jupiter, Florida.

"People expect that rates are going up, that is for sure, but it depends on the speed and the pace, and if it takes until December for the rates to hit 2%, that is fine that is nine months away, the market will have plenty of time to adjust. But if it happens in a month, then that is going to be a different story."

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 11/32 in price to yield 1.5924%, from 1.554% late on Friday.

Investors have wrestled with whether the stimulus will help global growth rebound faster from the COVID-19 downturn or could cause the world's biggest economy to overheat and lead to runaway inflation, outweighing the benefits.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package will provide enough resources to fuel a "very strong" U.S. economic recovery, but noted there "are tools" to deal with inflation.

Analysts largely expect an acceleration in inflation, which has been stoked in part by the latest climb in oil prices, which on Monday briefly climbed above $70 for the first time since January 2020.

On Wall Street, major averages rebounded as yields eased, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq bouncing from a drop of as much as 0.86%. The technology sector and other richly-valued names have been highly susceptible to rising rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 453.17 points, or 1.44%, to 31,949.47, the S&P 500 gained 33.04 points, or 0.86%, to 3,874.98 and the Nasdaq Composite added 37.38 points, or 0.29%, to 12,957.53.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 2.12% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.44%.

Economic data also pointed to a continued recovery, as the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories increased solidly in January despite a surge in sales, suggesting inventory investment could again contribute to economic growth in the first quarter.

On foreign exchange markets, the dollar index shot up to a high of 92.341, its highest since November 24.

The dollar index rose 0.479%, with the euro down 0.5% to $1.1857.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.49% versus the greenback at 108.83 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3813, down 0.20% on the day.

The jump in yields and the dollar has weighed on gold, which offers no fixed return. Spot gold dropped 1.1% to $1,682.39 an ounce after hitting a nine-month low of $1,678.40.

Oil prices rose to their highest levels in more than a year after attacks on Saudi Arabian oil sites and the stimulus passage, before reversing course to trade lower on the day.

U.S. crude recently fell 1.35% to $65.20 per barrel and Brent was at $68.47, down 1.28% on the day.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)