Published: 12:39, May 26, 2022 | Updated: 18:29, May 26, 2022
World shares mixed on growth worries as central banks tighten
By Reuters

MILAN / SHANGHAI - World shares were mixed on Thursday on persistent concerns over slowing economic growth and after the latest US Federal Reserve minutes confirmed its intent to tighten monetary policy quickly.

While Wall Street rallied after the minutes, which showed a majority of policymakers backed 50-basis-points rate hikes in June and July along with a unanimous view the economy was strong, the mood in Europe and Asia was more subdued.

The pan-European STOXX 600 equity benchmark rose 0.2 percent in morning trade, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.3 percent.

That left the MSCI's benchmark for global stocks little changed around 630 points by 0834 GMT. The index is off the November 2020 lows hit earlier this month but still down more than 16 percent so far in 2022.

All participants at the Fed's May 3-4 meeting supported a half-percentage-point rate increase, the first of that size in more than 20 years, and "most participants" judged that further hikes of that magnitude would "likely be appropriate" at the Fed's policy meetings in June and July, according to minutes from the meeting.

While some investors worry that overly aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed could tip the economy into recession, Wednesday's minutes seemed to suggest the Fed would pause its tightening streak to assess the impact on growth.

"The minutes are consistent with a range of policy options thereafter, but a slower pace of tightening seems the most likely course," wrote Paul Donovan, Chief Economist at UBS Global Wealth Management.

S&P 500 e-mini futures fell 0.1 percent and Nasdaq e-minis declined following a rally on Wednesday that saw the S&P 500 gain almost 1 percent and the Nasdaq rise 1.5 percent.

The immediate attention is on Thursday's Commerce Department release of its second take on first-quarter GDP, which analysts expect to show a slightly shallower contraction than the 1.4 percent quarterly annualized drop originally reported.

South Korea's central bank raised interest rates for a second consecutive meeting as it grapples with consumer inflation at 13-year highs. 

In foreign exchange markets, the dollar hovered above a one-month low. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of major peers, was flat at 102.06.

US Treasury yields eased. The 10-year yield fell 3 basis points (bps) to 2.716 percent and the policy-sensitive two-year yield also declined 3 bps.

Crude oil extended a cautious rally on signs of tight supply, with Brent crude up 0.6 percent at $114.03 per barrel and US crude up 0.7 percent at $111.11.

Spot gold was down 0.3 percent at $1,847.3 per ounce.