Stocks climb before much-anticipated Powell speech

London, Aug 23 (AFP/APP):Stock markets and the dollar rose Friday before a key speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell.

After a positive start to the week sparked by China-US trade hopes, investors have taken a wait-and-see approach ahead of Powell’s address, which will be parsed for clues about the US central bank’s plans for monetary policy.

There are hopes he will outline further cuts to borrowing costs, having done so last month for the first time since the financial crisis, but with the US economy in much better health than most others, analysts warn there could be some disappointment.

“One thing to reiterate going into tonight’s speech is that markets seem very clearly positioned for some very dovish guidance from Mr Powell on US interest rates,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“It is a dangerous assumption to make and the corrections across various asset classes if he disappoints could make for a very emotional finish to the week’s trading session.”

That was a sentiment reiterated by New York Mellon chief strategist Alicia Levine, who pointed out that minutes from the Fed’s July meeting released this week showed policymakers were split on the way forward owing to recent upbeat data on the economy.

“The markets want more than the Fed is going to give here,” she told Bloomberg TV.

Friday’s mostly positive performance for stock markets followed a soft lead from Wall Street, where traders Thursday took note of another inversion of the US Treasury market — when the return on 10-year notes fell below that of two-year notes, which is seen as a sign of a possible recession.

In foreign exchange, the pound retreated one day after spiking on hopes that Britain would exit the European Union with a deal.

“As investors start to eye the central bank shindig in Jackson Hole, the pound decided to rein in the enthusiasm it displayed on Thursday,” said Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday met with French President Emmanuel Macron, following his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel the day before.

Echoing Merkel, Macron supported allowing more time to find a solution to the issue of the Irish border that has bedeviled Brexit negotiations since 2017.

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