Bonds News

GLOBAL MARKETS-Shares gain, dollar firm as Fed sticks to agenda of near-zero rates

(New throughout, updates oil and gold to settlement, adds Fed minutes and comment)

* Equities gain on dovish Fed stance

* Long-term U.S. Treasury yields rise

* Oil gains as storm hits U.S. output, inventories drop

* Graphic: 2020 asset performance

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2020

* Reuters Live Markets blog:

NEW YORK, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Equity markets rose and the dollar firmed on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates near zero, as expected, and said it would continue its bond-buying program to stimulate the U.S. economy as part of a dovish policy stance.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields rose and gold prices edged higher after the Fed promised to keep rates on hold until inflation is on track to “moderately exceed” the U.S. central bank’s 2% inflation target “for some time.”

“They want to be dovish. They want to be super dovish. The market is priced for dovish,” said Nancy Davis, managing partner and chief investment officer at Quadratic Capital Management LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.

“Nobody thinks there’s going to be any kind of inflation at all and the guidance is more dovish and in line with what the market expected,” Davis said, adding that she believes there is a danger inflation could exceed expectations.

New economic projections released with the Fed’s policy statement showed rates on hold through at least 2023, with inflation never breaching 2% over that time. Policymakers saw the economy shrinking 3.7% this year, far less steep than the 6.5% decline forecast in June. Unemployment, which registered 8.4% in August, was seen falling to 7.6% by the end of the year.

At the Fed’s last meeting in August the U.S. central bank adopted a new approach to inflation and unemployment that will allow the economy to run a little hotter than in the past to help ensure jobs growth for lower income earners.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets rose 0.25% to 577.1, while its emerging markets index rose 0.48%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.72% and the S&P 500 gained 0.20%. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.45%, pulled lower by declines in Apple Inc , Inc, Facebook Inc and Microsoft Corp - stocks that have propelled the index to record highs this year.

In Europe, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.49% at 1,446.16. London’s FTSE 100 lagged gains by other European indices, down 0.44% at the close, but the struggling pound was propped up by a weaker dollar.

European retail stocks surged on strong results from Zara-owner Inditex after it said there was a progressive return to normality, with online sales growing sharply and store sales recovering. Shares of the Spanish retailer jumped 8.1%.

U.S. consumer spending slowed in August, with retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services sliding 0.1% after a downwardly revised 0.9% increase in July.

Retail sales lost a little steam in August, but consumers overall are still doing well despite modest weakness relative to expectations, said Russell Price, chief economist at Ameriprise Financial at Troy, Michigan.

When the pandemic slowed economic growth, consumers were in a relatively strong financial condition, the direct opposite of what is normally the case for an economic downturn, he said.

“Consumers are still overall doing well despite the modest weakness relative to expectations,” Price said.

The yen rose overnight and extended gains that hit a nearly seven-week high of 104.995 to the dollar as investors sought safer assets.

The dollar index rose 0.016%, with the euro down 0.34% to $1.1805.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.44% versus the greenback at 104.95 per dollar.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 1.2 basis points to 0.6871%.

U.S. gold futures settled up 0.2% at $1,970.50 an ounce. Spot gold prices rose 0.14% to $1,958.26 an ounce.

Brent crude futures rose $1.69 to settle at $42.22 a barrel, while U.S. crude futures settled up $1.88 at $40.16 a barrel.

Zinc prices pushed toward a 16-month highs hit earlier this month as resurgent Chinese industry bolstered the outlook for demand and the yuan strengthened, making metals more affordable for Chinese buyers.

Oil prices rose for a second day, up more than 2%, as Hurricane Sally closed U.S. offshore production and an industry report showed U.S. crude inventories unexpectedly decreased.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; editing by Catherine Evans and Jonathan Oatis