Stocks, dollar swing upward on hopeful retail data

By Pete Schroeder and Herbert Lash

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Global equities jumped higher on Tuesday on the back of optimism about consumer resilience in the face of rising inflation, which also helped drive the dollar to a 16-month high.

All three major Wall Street indices moved higher in midday trading, as Walmart upped its holiday forecast and the Commerce Department reported October retail sales activity that beat economist expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.61%, the S&P 500 gained 0.58%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.7%.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, rose 0.25%.

The strong data and boosted forecast suggested Americans so far at least are not discouraged from spending by rising prices, buoying hopes for a strong recovery as the world’s largest economy emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. It also suggests the Federal Reserve might less worried about derailing the recovery with quicker interest rate hikes.

“If the U.S. economy is going to recover, it’s going to be partly through consumption, which is still about 70% of the economy,” said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex. “Today’s retail sales number supports that.”

Economic optimism paired with continued inflation also helped continue to push the U.S. dollar higher. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, was last up 0.48%.

The dollar index has rallied since U.S. inflation data last week showed annualized consumer prices jumping surged to their highest since 1990, fueling speculation that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates sooner than expected.

The Fed should “tack in a more hawkish direction” to prepare in case inflation does not begin to ease, St. Louis Federal Reserve bank president James Bullard said.

Treasury yields also moved up on Tuesday’s developments. Benchmark 10-year notes were last at 1.63%, up from 1.61% before the data was released.

The retail data added to a more buoyant mood after U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping held more than three hours of virtual talks Monday.

The conversation between the leaders of the world’s biggest economies appeared to yield no immediate outcome but is widely seen as a joint effort to improve icy relations and avoid direct confrontation.

Oil prices also moved upward in Tuesday’s trading. Brent crude for delivery was last up 0.8% to $82.68 a barrel. U.S. crude was last up 0.3% to $81.14 per barrel. Oil prices have come under pressure from the prospect high energy prices could drive increased production and lead to an oil supply surplus.

Market optimism elsewhere weighed down safe-haven gold, as spot gold prices fell 0.60% to $1,851.32 an ounce.

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Alun John in London and Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Sam Holmes, Shri Navaratnam, Robert Birsel, Timothy Heritage, Barbara Lewis and Marguerita Choy)

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