• US Fed hike propels stocks, dollar higher


    LONDON: Stock markets advanced Thursday and the dollar soared after the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates as expected—and signalled three more rises next year.

    The news sent the dollar spiking to a near 14-year high against the euro, as the hawkish prospect of more rate increases cemented support for the greenback.

    “The markets are really running off last night’s Fed announcement,” said Mati Greenspan at brokerage eToro. “This is one awesome finale to an awesome trading year.”

    Wall Street also pushed forward, with 20,000 on the Dow index firmly in its sights.

    The yield on 10-year US Treasury bonds hit the highest level since the summer of 2014, having already soared in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise election victory.

    Trump unexpectedly won the US presidency in November with populist promises to protect US jobs, ramp up infrastructure spending and slash taxes.

    Gold, a safe-heaven investment that typically falls when the economic outlook is good, hit its lowest level since February.

    “The market is whole-heartedly embracing Trumpenomics and the idea that the US economy will be on fiscal steroids in the next few years. Rates will rise and the dollar will surge,” City Index analyst Kathleen Brooks told AFP.

    Banks surge

    “In contrast, the eurozone is mired in problems including slow growth, low inflation and multiple political risks in Italy and France.”

    The London stock market meanwhile shifted into positive territory after the Bank of England held interest rates at a record low, closing just a tad shy of the key 7,000 level.

    The British central bank said all nine policymakers agreed at a regular policy meeting to keep the rate on hold and to leave the amount of QE cash stimulus pumping around the economy at £435 billion ($543 billion, 521 billion euros).

    In the eurozone, the banking sector bolted higher on expectations of swelling profits in Europe in the wake of the Fed news, dealers said.

    “The main thing for Europe is the banks,” said ETX Capital analyst Neil Wilson.

    There were broad gains in the eurozone, with Frankfurt and Paris stocks both adding more than one percent.

    Frankfurt’s top gainer was Deutsche Bank, and the biggest winner in Paris was lender BNP Paribas, followed by Societe Generale and Credit Agricole.

    “There could be no better news for the banking sector than higher rates,” said London Capital Group analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya, noting that the sector had struggled for years with the low global interest rate environment.

    “They have seen their revenues squeezed (and) they had to increase their risk taking in order to secure tiny returns for their clients,” she added.

    “Now, finally, they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    “Higher rates means higher margins, improved organic revenues, lower pressure. This explains the cheerfulness in the banking sector.”



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