Stocks wobble, dollar at six-week high, on debt impasse
Global shares dipped on Wednesday, while the dollar headed for its biggest weekly gain since February to trade at six-week highs, reflecting risk aversion pending a breakthrough to lift the US debt ceiling.
Democrat President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday held an hour of talks to avoid a potential US debt default.
After the meeting, McCarthy, the speaker of the House of Representatives, told reporters the two sides remained far apart.
But he said: "It is possible to get a deal by the end of the week. It's not that difficult to get to an agreement."
The MSCI All-World index eased 0.1 per cent on the day, while Europe's STOXX 600 fell 0.1 per cent and US stock index futures rose 0.3 per cent.
Without an agreement, in about two weeks, the government might not be able to pay its bills, and economists believe the chances of a recession are rising.
"Given aggressive rate hikes and curve inversions, we think there'll be a US recession rather than a soft landing," Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said, referring to how yields on short-dated Treasuries have soared above those for longer-dated bonds. Known as curve inversion, they indicate investor nervousness.
The dollar has rallied 2.0 per cent against a basket of major currencies in the last month, as investors anticipate a slowdown in the US economy.
"A period of risk reduction by global investors could begin to weigh more heavily on high beta currencies such as commodity and emerging market currencies, at least until a deal is reached," MUFG strategist Lee Hardman said.
High-beta currencies - ones that tend to be more volatile - such as the pound are up sharply so far this year, along with emerging-market currencies, such as the Mexican peso or the Brazilian real.
The dollar index, which on Wednesday traded around its highest since early April, has gained more than 1.5 per cent in the past week - making this its strongest week-on-week gain since late February.
Recent economic data indicates slowing in the US economy following rate hikes by the Federal Reserve to fight high inflation. Markets are pricing the Fed to cut rates towards the end of the year, according to the CME FedWatch tool, but some Fed officials have stuck to hawkish rhetoric.
Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said the Fed would need to stay "super strong" in fighting inflation even if the unemployment rate starts to rise later in the year, while Chicago Federal Reserve President Austan Goolsbee said it was premature to be discussing interest rate cuts.
Home Depot, one of the major retailers, issued a downbeat forecast on Tuesday, while data showed mixed April US retail sales, as consumers tighten their purse strings.
Meanwhile, data on Wednesday showed Japan's economy emerged from recession and grew faster than expected in the first quarter. The Nikkei topped 30,000 for the first time in more than 18 months. The index is up 15 per cent this year as foreign investors have piled in, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
The dollar rose against the yen, gaining 0.4 per cent to trade at 136.88 per yen. The offshore yuan weakened past seven per dollar for the first time in five months.
Oil reversed earlier losses. Brent crude rose 0.5 per cent to $US75.28 ($A113.09) a barrel, while US crude futures gained 0.5 per cent to trade at $US71.21 ($A106.98).