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GLOBAL MARKETS-BoE bashes sterling; Wall Street awaits Fed chief, Apple
November 2, 2017 / 1:45 PM / 21 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-BoE bashes sterling; Wall Street awaits Fed chief, Apple

* European bourses dip after recent surge in world stocks

* Sterling slides, FTSE gains as BoE hike dampens bets on more

* Dollar, Wall Street struggle ahead of new Fed chair, U.S. tax bill

* Bitcoin shoots above $7,000 then tumbles

* Czech crown nurses position as top 2017 currency

* Oil and copper edge back after Wednesday jumps

* Nikkei probes 21-year highs ahead of Japan holiday

* World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Marc Jones

LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Sterling skidded on Thursday after the Bank of England indicated there would be no quick follow up to its first rate rise in a decade, while equity markets awaited news of the next Fed chief and results from Apple.

Sterling tumbled around 1 percent and Britain’s main FTSE 100 stock index jumped as, after weeks of heavy hinting, the BoE raised rates by a quarter point but said it sees only gentle rises ahead.

The move came as economic growth in Europe’s second largest economy appears weaker than before any increase in borrowing costs in the past 20 years.

The pound’s drop took it back below $1.31 and sent it down as much as 1.4 percent to 89 pence per euro, putting it on track for its biggest one-day fall in 3-1/2 months.

“All members agree that any future increases in Bank Rate will be at a gradual pace and to a limited extent,” the BoE said in its post-meeting statement, repeating its previous signals on what is likely to happen to borrowing costs.

Though the FTSE made gains on the pound’s drop, stocks in the rest of Europe edged down after hitting two-year highs on Wednesday and Wall Street also struggled on opening, albeit near record highs.

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones both went sideways, but the Nasdaq dropped 0.3 percent as delays to one of its new models sent electric car maker Tesla into reverse ahead of Apple’s results, due after the market close.

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook quashed concerns recently about muted demand for the iPhone X, which is due for release on Friday, saying pre-orders for the 10th anniversary smartphone were “off the charts”, but analysts will be watching closely.

Expectations that many users are on the verge of upgrading from older iPhones have also sent Apple’s stock to record highs, pushing it closer to becoming the first publicly listed company with a stock market value above $1 trillion.

“Apple is taking the iPhone franchise to a whole new level with the iPhone X, pushing the company deep into the ultra-luxury smartphone market,” Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White wrote in a note to clients.

The BoE’s cautious-sounding signals meanwhile nudged government bond yields lower, with investors again weighing up how much momentum there is in the region’s move away from a decade of record low interest rates.

“Today’s quarter-point rate hike shouldn’t raise eyebrows, and looks for now to be a one-off ‘muscle flex’ by the BoE, rather than the start of an aggressive tightening,” said Neil Williams, group chief economist at Hermes Investment Management.

POWELL POWER

The dollar, meanwhile, gave up some of the gains that lifted it to a 3-1/2 month high this week.

The Federal Reserve bolstered bets on a third U.S. rate hike of the year on Wednesday, but the focus is now on delayed tax cut plans due later and Donald Trump’s expected nomination of Jerome Powell to replace Janet Yellen to lead the central bank.

Powell is a current policymaker and is seen by Fed followers as a Yellen-style pragmatist and less likely to sharply raise interest rates than some of the other candidates rumoured to have been in the running.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, slipped 0.15 percent to 94.690 as it pulled back 0.1 percent against the yen to 114.12 and $1.1655 per euro.

Rising interest rates were also in focus in central Europe where the world’s best performing mainstream currency -- the Czech crown -- got a lift from the second 25 basis point rate rise there in four months.

With the currency peg removed earlier in the year, the crown is now up more than 16 percent against the dollar in 2017 and is trading at a four-year high against the euro.

Digital currency bitcoin rocketed above $7,000 for the first time ever on Thursday, after a more than sevenfold increase in its value since the start of the year.

Bitcoin has more than doubled in value in the past seven weeks alone and hit $7,066.44 at one point on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange on Thursday.

The latest rally was driven by news this week that the world’s largest derivatives exchange operator CME Group is to launch bitcoin futures.

Commodities appear to be back in boom mode although crude oil futures, which have surged over the last month, dipped for a second day. Brent crude was down 10 cents at $60.56 per barrel and U.S. crude was down 1 cent at $54.29.

Metals traders were also locking in profits, having seen the likes of copper and nickel surge to a two-year high and aluminium to a more than five-year high this week.

Part of the rally has been built on hopes that new electric cars will ramp up demand for certain kinds of metals.

“It’s going to be a long time before electric vehicles have a material impact on overall demand,” Capital Economics analyst Caroline Bain said. “It is good news for nickel that it’s got a longer-term future, but in short, it’s a bit overdone.”

Additional reporting by Helen Reid and Jan Harvey; Editing by Susan Fenton

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