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Stocks slide, dollar holds firm as Fed focus intensifies; crypto soars


Asian stocks saw a slight downtrend on Tuesday, while the dollar maintained its strength as investors awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting. The aim was to gauge the timing and potential extent of interest rate cuts anticipated for this year.

Gold experienced a slight retreat from Monday’s record high, and crude oil prices declined amidst concerns that U.S. interest rates might remain elevated for a prolonged period, given the cautious stance of Fed officials despite recent signs of easing inflation.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies like ether and bitcoin surged to fresh six-week highs, driven by speculation surrounding a potential approval by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a spot ether exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Currently, markets are pricing in approximately 41 basis points of Fed rate reductions for this year, with a quarter-point cut fully anticipated for November. This surge in expectations followed data earlier in the month indicating a moderation in consumer price pressures in April, following several months of higher-than-expected inflation at the start of the year.

However, Fed officials remain hesitant to declare victory over inflation, with Vice Chairs Philip Jefferson and Michael Barr emphasizing the need for more time to assess whether the slowdown in inflation is sustainable.

Investors are eagerly awaiting the release of minutes from the last Fed meeting scheduled for Wednesday, hoping for insights into the future policy trajectory, although these deliberations occurred before last week’s softer Consumer Price Index (CPI) reading.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan declined by 0.9%, partly influenced by a 1.9% pullback in Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index from Monday’s multi-month high.

Japan’s Nikkei, initially tracking overnight gains for the Nasdaq to a record high, reversed course to trade 0.1% lower.

Nasdaq futures dipped by 0.06%, while S&P 500 futures remained flat after a marginal gain of 0.1% on Monday.

Despite the cautious market sentiment, supported by expectations of U.S. rate cuts, record highs for precious metals such as gold and copper suggest optimism about global economic recovery and lingering concerns about inflation.

Gold retreated by 0.3% to around $2,417 per ounce, following its recent surge towards $2,450 for the first time.

The dollar held steady against major currencies, with the dollar index unchanged at 104.62, rebounding from a five-week low reached last Thursday.

Yields on 10-year Treasury bonds remained relatively stable at 4.4433%, with a slight uptick of 1.7 basis points on Monday.

Brent crude futures and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) both experienced a 0.7% decline, trading at $83.17 per barrel and $79.22 per barrel, respectively.

On the cryptocurrency front, bitcoin surged to as high as $71,957, while ether reached $3,720.80, both hitting levels not seen since April 9. This rally was partly fueled by reports suggesting a possible approval of ether ETFs by the SEC, which boosted investor confidence in the cryptocurrency market.

Analysts anticipate bitcoin to retest its all-time high at $73,803.25 in the coming days, with potential further gains towards the $80,000 mark.


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