Stocks rise on firm rate-cut expectations though trade worries loom

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A broad index of stocks around the world edged higher on Thursday as comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell bolstered expectations for an interest-rate cut, though concerns about global trade tensions capped gains.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 index ticked upward as technology shares rose, though it momentarily pared some gains after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter that China was not living up to promises it made on buying U.S. agricultural products.

Trade jitters also stymied European stocks. The STOXX 600 fell 0.09% as warnings from small-cap auto and industrial suppliers pushed down shares of car parts companies Valeo and Continental.

MSCI’s gauge of global stocks rose 0.26%, however, boosted by the advance in U.S. shares and earlier gains in Asian stocks.

U.S. shares touched record highs after Powell, in his first day of testimony before Congress on Wednesday, confirmed the U.S. economy was still under threat from disappointing factory activity, tame inflation and a simmering trade war and said the Fed stood ready to “act as appropriate.” Powell was testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

The enthusiasm, however, was somewhat tempered by trade tensions and their effect on corporate results as the earnings season kicks off.

“The market’s focus has shifted just a bit as we go into earnings season,” said Matt Forester, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon’s Lockwood Advisors. “Any disappointment could be met with pressure on stocks.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 198.22 points, or 0.74%, to 27,058.42, the S&P 500 gained 7.38 points, or 0.25%, to 3,000.45 and the Nasdaq Composite added 13.32 points, or 0.16%, to 8,215.85.

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