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Global markets climb on Powell rate reassurance

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    Agence France-Presse

London   /   Thu, February 25, 2021   /   09:05 pm
Global markets climb on Powell rate reassurance Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on interest rate policy in Washington, US, on Jan. 29, 2020. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)

World stock markets advanced Thursday after US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell down played interest rate hike concerns and traders took heart  from positive vaccine developments.

In Europe approaching the half-way stage, London stocks was up 0.5 percent, Paris added 0.4 percent, and Frankfurt added  0.1 percent.

Oil prices briefly hit fresh 13-month peaks on keen demand, while the European single currency rose against the dollar on Powell's remarks.

Asian equities steamed ahead on the latest reassurances from the Fed but traders remain mindful of rising US bond yields, an indicator of possibly higher inflation.

Wall Street jumped overnight, with the Dow hitting another  record, additionally supported after the US Food and Drug Administration appeared ready to approve a single-shot Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

"It seems Jerome Powell said just enough to keep investors on board, while the FDA declaring the J&J vaccine safe and effective was another big victory in the fight against Covid-19," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"It's worth noting that yields are still rising in the US, despite Jerome Powell's soothing words, so that nervousness that caused stock markets to stall could quite easily creep back in."

Powell on Wednesday again reiterated the US central bank's commitment to keeping the financial taps wide open until inflation was sitting persistently at its two percent target and unemployment had been tamed.

Addressing fears that inflation could jump too sharply, Powell stated that rising prices are "a different thing from persistent high inflation, which we do not expect and if we do get, then we have the tools to deal with it".

Equities have soared in recent months on optimism over a vaccines-propelled global economic recovery, but fears persist that imminent US government stimulus will fuel inflation and force the Federal Reserve to reverse its ultra-loose monetary policy.

World markets have become jittery over the prospect of higher borrowing costs.

Traders are keeping tabs on Washington, where Joe Biden's vast $1.9-trillion economic rescue package is winding its way through Congress.