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Most U.S. stocks edged higher as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell forecast solid but slower growth. The pound rallied as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May promised a vote to delay Brexit if her proposed deal fails.
After opening lower, the S&P 500 was mostly higher, led by gains among consumer stables, information technology and energy stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average remained lower. Shares fell in Asia as the rush of optimism over U.S.-China trade talks from earlier in the week faded. Treasuries climbed while European bonds were mixed.
The pound rallied to the highest level versus the euro since 2017 and traded near the day’s highs as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May addressed Parliament, confirming there was a path to delaying Brexit. The opposition Labour party also changed tack, coming out in favor of a second vote on the divorce.
Powell said a healthy U.S. economy has faced some “crosscurrents and conflicting signals” that officials in January decided warranted taking a patient approach to future interest-rate changes.
With inflation pressures “muted,” the Federal Open Market Committee in its decision last month to keep interest rates unchanged “determined that the cumulative effects’’ of its actions and global and financial developments, “along with ongoing government policy uncertainty, warranted taking a patient approach with regard to future policy changes,’’ Powell said in prepared testimony.
Elsewhere, WTI crude was little changed after tumbling the most in four weeks on criticism from Trump that prices are too high. Iron ore retreated with Barclays warning it may erase all its dam-disaster gains this year.
Here are some key events coming up:
Powell delivers semiannual testimony on monetary policy and the state of the economy over two days to House and Senate committees.President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un are expected to meet for a second summit beginning on Tuesday.Thursday brings fourth quarter U.S. GDP.
These are the main moves in markets:
The S&P 500 Index rose less than 0.1 percent as of 10:13 a.m. New York time, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gained less than 0.1 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.1 percent.The Stoxx Europe 600 rose less than 0.1 percent.The MSCI Emerging Market Index dropped 0.2 percent, the first drop in seven sessions.The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.4 percent.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose less than 0.1 percent.The euro gained less than 0.1 percent to $1.1363.The British pound strengthened 0.6 percent to $1.3169.The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index fell less than 0.1 percent.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries dropped three basis points to 2.64 percent.Germany’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to 0.10 percent.Britain’s 10-year yield increased one basis point to 1.19 percent.
West Texas Intermediate fell 0.3 percent to $55.34 a barrel.Gold dropped less than 0.1 percent to $1,327 an ounce.The Bloomberg Commodity Index declined 0.1 percent.
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