Republican victory boosts stocks as the dollar strengthens, gold slumps

S&P 500 expected to reach new record high as investors cheer business-friendly GOP

Nov 5, 2014 @ 6:56 am

By Bloomberg News

U.S. equity-index futures rose after Republicans won control of the Senate, the dollar strengthened and precious metals fell. European stocks climbed on better-than-estimated earnings while Brent crude oil retreated to four-year low and Russia's ruble weakened.

Standard & Poor's 500 Index futures advanced 0.4% at 6:35 a.m. in New York, signaling the gauge will approach a record. The U.S. currency rose against all of its 16 major counterparts.

Republicans picked up seven Senate seats and more were possible, positioning Mitch McConnell, the chamber's Republican leader since 2007, to set the legislative agenda for the final two years of Barack Obama's presidency.

“Republicans are seen as more business friendly, so it's not surprising if markets react positively to the mid-term results,” Veronika Pechlaner, who helps oversee about $2.3 billion at Ashburton Ltd., said. “It could make it easier for decisions to be passed, and clearer decision-making is a good thing in U.S. politics.”

The S&P 500 closed Tuesday within 0.3% of a record reached on Oct. 31 and has rallied 8.9% this year.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index jumped 1.1%. Gold lost 2.1% as assets in the largest exchange-traded product backed by the metal dropped to a six-year low. Oil fell before government data that will probably show stockpiles rose for a fifth week. The ruble slid to a record as the central bank moved closer to allowing the currency to trade freely.

Marks & Spencer Group Plc, the U.K.'s biggest clothing retailer, raised its forecast for full-year profitability, and Hannover Re, the world's third-biggest reinsurer by market value, said profit rose 21%.

More than five shares advanced for every one that declined in the Stoxx 600, which has rebounded 7.8% from this year's low reached on Oct. 16.

M&S BEATS

Marks & Spencer rallied 9.3%, the most since March 2013, and Hannover Re gained 1.3%. Natixis SA climbed 2.4% after saying profit jumped 10 helped by higher asset-management and insurance revenue.

Outokumpu Oyj dropped 7.4%, dragging a gauge of European commodity producers down for a third day. The Finnish steelmaker reported a third-quarter net loss that was wider than analysts predicted.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell for a third day, slipping 0.8%, led by commodity producers and technology shares.

Dubai led declines worldwide, with the DFM General Index falling 3.3%. Saudi Arabia's Tadawul All Share Index of the Arab world's largest bourse slid 3.2 percent, and Abu Dhabi's benchmark gauge declined 2.4%.

The ruble slid 1.3% to 44.1850 per dollar, after dropping as much as 3.2% to 44.98. The yield on the August 2023 ruble bond rose 10 basis points to 10.19%. The Micex declined 1.1%. Russian markets were closed yesterday for a public holiday.

TARGETED INTERVENTIONS

The Bank of Russia said that while it was abandoning its previous currency-intervention policy and will spend $350 million only once a day, it may conduct additional interventions of an undisclosed size to ward off “threats” to the country's financial stability. The currency pared losses after the bank said it didn't exclude more interest-rate increases.

Ukraine's July 2017 Eurobond fell for a third day, sending the yield 15 basis points higher to 15.16%. The rate has climbed 177 basis points this week.

President Petro Poroshenko will ask parliament to revoke a law giving more autonomy to regions occupied by pro-Russian separatists after the rebels held elections on the weekend that were condemned by the U.S. and the European Union.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong dropped 1%, the most in three weeks. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.5%, falling for the first time in seven days.

EXTENDING LEAD

The dollar is extending its lead as the year's best-performing major currency as the U.S. economy gains momentum. It reached 114.59 yen today, the highest in almost seven years, adding to gains after Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he saw no limit to the steps the central bank may take to defeat deflation. The U.S. currency reached $1.2475 per euro, approaching its strongest level in two years.

Government bonds were little changed, with the rate on 10-year Treasury notes at 2.35% and the yield on similar-maturity German bunds at 0.82%.

Average yields on investment-grade bonds in euros fell to a record, while yields for junk borrowers declined to the lowest since Sept. 26, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch data. Investment-grade bonds in euros yield 1.91 percentage points less than notes in dollars, the widest spread in six years and approaching the biggest gap since 2005, the data show.

METALS SLIDE

Gold for immediate delivery tumbled as much as 2.1% and touched $1,143.76, the lowest intraday level since April 2010. Silver dropped 4.4%, platinum slid 1.9% and palladium lost 2.9%.

Holdings in the SPDR Gold Trust slid 0.3% Tuesday to 738.8 metric tons, the lowest since September 2008 when Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, as falling oil prices and the end of bond buying by the Fed diminished demand for the metal as an inflation hedge.

The Bloomberg Commodity Index (BCOM) slumped 0.8% to its lowest in more than five years as copper, aluminum and nickel fell at least 1.1%in London trading.

Brent oil slid as much as 1.4% to $81.63 a barrel, the lowest since October 2010, while West Texas Intermediate contracts retreated 0.5% after reaching a three-year low yesterday. The weighted average of the main crude grades produced by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries fell below $80 a barrel for the first time in four years.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi will attend a conference in fellow OPEC member Venezuela Thursday, according to embassy officials in Caracas. Venezuela is preparing a proposal to defend the oil price for OPEC's Nov. 27 meeting, President Nicolas Maduro said in comments broadcast on state television Oct. 31.

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