Europe shares, dollar gain as investors look to Yellen
European shares rose on Tuesday, shrugging off losses in Asia, while the dollar regained its footing as investors looked to a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues to the interest rate outlook following weak US data.
As European markets reopened after a four-day Easter break, oil dipped below $40 a barrel with U.S. crude stockpiles forecast to hit record levels. This, signalling continued low levels of inflation, helped push low-risk government bond yields down. But the focus was on Yellen, who was due to speak before the Economic Club of New York at 1530 GMT. Weaker-than-expected U.S. consumer spending data on Monday prompted analysts to suggest the U.S. central bank would be cautious about raising rates this year. Fed policymakers earlier this month projected two rises in 2016, with some saying the first could come next month. "After the optimistic comments we had from other Fed officials in the recent past, we expect Yellen to be more balanced compared to a very dovish Fed statement," said Yujiro Gato, currency strategist at Nomura. "Clearly that will be a driver for the dollar today."
The pan-European Eurofirst 300 .FTEU3 stock index rose 0.6 percent, with insurers among the gainers after positive broker comments.
The index is down some 8 percent in 2016 after a turbulent quarter on financial markets triggered by concern over the health of the Chinese economy, uncertainty over U.S. rates and sharp fluctuations in the price of oil and other commodities.
Britain's FTSE 100 index .FTSE added 0.8 percent, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS slipped 0.4 percent. Australian shares finished about 1.6 percent lower while Tokyo's Nikkei . N225 closed 0.2 percent lower as the week U.S. data rattled sentiment towards exporters. China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 closed down 1.1 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC lost 1.3 percent.
The dollar, which slipped on Monday on the soft data, rose 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY. Morgan Stanley said its positioning data showed the market was its most short dollars since June. The euro EUR= fell 0.1 percent to $1.1178 while the Japanese yen JPY= fell 0.2 percent to 113.62. Speculation of more monetary stimulus and talk that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might delay an unpopular sales tax hike and call a snap election kept the yen under pressure, though Abe insisted on Tuesday that neither option was planned.