Stocks hold gains, dollar strengthens after Fed flags taper soon

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – A gauge of global stock markets trimmed gains in choppy trading on Wednesday and the U.S. dollar strengthened after the Federal Reserve cleared the way for the central bank to reduce its monthly bond purchases soon.

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Asset price moves were volatile following the Fed’s latest policy statement, in which the central bank also signaled interest rate increases may follow more quickly than expected.

“It’s probably a little bit more hawkish than many would have anticipated basically acknowledging that should the economy continue to grow as we have seen it would warrant a tapering to occur,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research in New York.

Stocks had been stronger earlier in the session, as investors already were scooping up equities as market jitters around property developer China Evergrande eased.

Evergrande agreed to settle interest payments on a domestic bond, while the Chinese central bank injected cash into the banking system, soothing fears of imminent contagion from the debt-laden property developer that had pressured equities and other riskier assets at the start of the week.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.65%, bouncing back for a second day after it logged its biggest one-day percentage drop in two months on Monday.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 382.01 points, or 1.13%, to 34,301.85, the S&P 500 gained 42.06 points, or 0.97%, to 4,396.25 and the Nasdaq Composite added 125.46 points, or 0.85%, to 14,871.86.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.99%.

In currency trading, the dollar index rose 0.132%, with the euro down 0.13% to $1.1708.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 1.3277%, from 1.324% late on Tuesday.

Oil prices climbed after U.S. crude stocks fell to their lowest levels in three years as refining activity recovered from recent storms.

U.S. crude rose 2.26% to $72.08 per barrel and Brent was at $76.05, up 2.27% on the day.

Spot gold dropped 0.2% to $1,770.30 an ounce.

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