Stock markets dip as US inflation comes into view

Photo courtesy of Unsplash
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Stock markets drifted lower on Monday as investors eyed the release this week of key US inflation data that could guide Federal Reserve plans for interest rates going into the new year.

Oil prices fell nearly two percent before bouncing higher and then sliding back lower as dealers awaited a delayed meeting of OPEC and its allies to decide over output levels.

With Wall Street seeing little action at the back of last week owing to the Thanksgiving break, traders had few catalysts to drive action, though analysts were upbeat about the end of the year.

"Although there isn't much buying interest at the moment, it's more notable that there still isn't much selling interest," said analyst Patrick O'Hare.

The retreat in equities comes after a recent run-up across world stock markets fuelled by bets the US central bank has finished lifting interest rates as inflation comes down and the jobs market comes off the boil. 

Expectations that the Federal Reserve is done with hiking rates continued to weigh on the dollar Monday.

The main focus this week is the release Thursday of the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed's preferred gauge of inflation.

"These numbers will be closely scrutinized for insights into inflation trends and their potential implications for monetary policy decisions," said SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes.

"While the current backdrop does not signify 'mission accomplished' in terms of addressing inflation, policymakers must now focus on planning for the next phase of the economic battle."

Still, observers were upbeat about the outlook, with the latest weakness blamed on traders taking a breather after a strong month.

Tony Sycamore, at IG Group, said early December could see some selling as investors "rebuild energy and (look) to set up for the end-of-year fireworks".

Others said a drop in Wall Street's VIX "fear gauge" — a measure of equity volatility — to its lowest since January 2020 suggested investors were getting their mojo back.

Eyes are also on developments at OPEC after the group and its allies, notably Russia, delayed a meeting aimed at agreeing production quotas, with some African countries said to be baulking at Saudi Arabian calls for more cuts.

The group is thought to be close to reaching an agreement that could see the Saudis and Russia extend output reductions into the new year.

OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said the OPEC+ group has shown in the past it usually can get a deal done, even if Saudi Arabia and Russia need shoulder bigger cuts.

"But the question is how far they'll push it, given the recent trend in oil prices and increasing concerns around global growth next year," said Erlam.

Crude prices have fallen in recent weeks as demand is seen coming down owing to slowing economies, particularly China's, and the Middle East conflict appears to not have expanded to include other countries in the region.

Key figures around 1630 GMT

New York – DOW: DOWN 0.2 percent at 35,338.58 points

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,460.70 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,265.49 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX: DOWN 0.4 percent at 15,966.37 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 4,354.41 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 33,447.67 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.2 percent at 17,525.06 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,031.70 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0935 from $1.0922

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2611 from $1.2585

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.70 pence from 86.79 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 148.94 from 149.56 yen 

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $75.44 per barrel 

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $80.36 per barrel 

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