S&P 500 Climbs to Record High as Dollar Rallies; Treasuries Drop

  • Theresa May’s elevation as prime minister boosts U.K. assets
  • Asian index futures tip more gains after Japan stock surge

Why Do Stock Indexes Keep Grinding Higher?

Stocks rose, sending the S&P 500 Index to an all-time high on speculation the U.S. economy remains strong enough to propel global growth without forcing the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. The dollar climbed with industrial metals.

The U.S. equity benchmark topped its intraday record from May 2015, extending a rally sparked by Friday’s jobs data, which restored confidence in the world’s largest economy. Treasuries fell from record highs, while emerging-market assets surged. Japanese shares rallied as the yen slid after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s success in upper house elections spurred bets he’ll boost fiscal stimulus. The FTSE 100 Index entered a bull market as political turmoil in the U.K. eased. Nickel advanced with copper, while oil fell from a two-month high.

Global equities are almost back to where they were when the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, an outcome that surprised many investors and wiped almost $4 trillion off stock values. Shares are finding support from the prospect policy makers will act to stem any fallout from Brexit, with the Bank of England tipped to cut rates this week and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expected to ramp up fiscal stimulus following victory in upper house elections at the weekend. U.K. assets were also supported by Theresa May’s elevation as prime minister, which filled a leadership vacuum that has been in place since David Cameron resigned the post the day after the June 23 referendum.

“Momentum is in play here, so as we look to break above new highs, that’ll get people to jump on the bandwagon,” said Matt Maley, an equity strategist in New York at Miller Tabak & Co LLC. “Investors are thinking they have to jump on board before the train leaves the station. The huge amount of uncertainty brought by the Brexit vote will keep the Fed from acting this year, which is helping stocks avoid some selling.”

Stocks

The S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to 2,1437.16 as of 4 p.m. in New York, closing at a record for the first time in 13 months. The rally ended a drought of 285 days without a fresh all-time high, the longest stretch outside a bear market since 1985. The Dow Jones Industrial Average moved within 0.2 percent of its record from May 2015, while the Nasdaq Composite Index briefly topped 5,000 points for the first time this year.

“It’s a little premature for the markets to be rallying before we have evidence that earnings will indeed not be so bad,” said John Carey, a Boston-based fund manager at Pioneer Investment Management Inc., which oversees about $230 billion. “Though it may be that we are putting the worst of Brexit behind us for the moment.”

Alcoa Inc. unofficially kicked off the earnings season after markets closed Monday, reporting profit for the second quarter that topped estimates. The aluminum maker’s shares jumped about 3.9 percent in extended trading. Analysts forecast profit at S&P 500 firms will drop 5.7 percent in the period, the fifth straight quarterly drop should it eventuate, and the longest streak of declines since 2009.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index added 1.6 percent for a third daily advance as all 19 industry groups rose. The FTSE 100 Index climbed 1.4 percent, bringing its rebound from a 3 1/2-year low reached in February to more than 20 percent, the common definition of a bull market. The U.K. equity benchmark has erased its post-Brexit vote drop.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 2.2 percent in a third day of gains, leaving the gauge up 6.1 percent this year. Exporters led Monday’s advance, with shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. climbing to a record.

Futures pointed to a second day of gains in Asia, with contracts on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average up 2.5 percent in Osaka, following a 4 percent surge in the Japanese index on Monday. Futures on stock measures in Australia, South Korea and Hong Kong also climbed at least 0.1 percent.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the greenback against 10 major peers, rose 0.5 percent after slipping 0.3 percent in the Friday session. Futures put the odds of a Fed rate increase this year at 21 percent, up from 12 percent before Friday’s payrolls figures. They show zero odds of a cut before the end of the year.

The yen slumped 2.3 percent to 102.80 per dollar, suffering its steepest intraday slide since January, while the Korean won strengthened 1.3 percent, its biggest advance in a month, after last week’s U.S. payrolls report boosted prospects for the Asian nation’s exporters.

The pound advanced, reversing an earlier loss, after Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the race to succeed David Cameron, paving the way for May, currently Home Secretary, to become Britain’s next prime minister. Sterling was 0.3 percent stronger at $1.30, having earlier depreciated by as much as 0.8 percent.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index advanced for a third day, rising 0.5 percent.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodity Index fell 0.4 percent, building on last week’s 3.7 percent drop that marked its steepest weekly slide since January. 

Crude fell to a two-month low as an increase in active U.S. oil rigs signaled a a potential easing in output declines and as the dollar’s rebound cut appetite for oil. West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery fell 1.4 percent to settle at $44.76 a barrel.

Gold fell from its highest level in more than two years as the dollar’s climb and the gains in equities reduced demand for the precious metal as a store of value. Futures dropped 0.1 percent to settle at $1,356.60 an ounce.

Copper helped lead a rally in base metals as prospects for stimulus in Japan and the better-than-estimated U.S. jobs data bolstered the outlook for metals demand. Mining stocks in the Americas rose to their highest point in a year.

Bonds

Treasuries declined, reversing much of last week’s gains, as an auction of $24 billion in three-year notes attracted the weakest demand since 2009.

Benchmark 10-year yields rose seven basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, to 1.43 percent, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader data. Rates declined nine basis points last week, touching an all-time low of 1.318 percent on July 6.

Similar-maturity debt in Japan yielded minus 0.27 percent, after yields touched an all-time low of minus 0.30 percent on Friday. Japan’s biggest bond bulls say the plunge in yields below zero in Tokyo foreshadows record-breaking gains for U.S. Treasuries. Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management says U.S. 10-year yields will drop to 1 percent as soon as this month, having touched an unprecedented 1.32 percent last week.

In Europe, Portugal’s government bonds fell for a fifth day, the longest run of declines since February, as the nation faced the prospect of a fine for breaching budget-deficit limits.

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