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GLOBAL MARKETS-Wall St, dollar rise with U.S. policy in focus
November 28, 2017 / 5:21 PM / 17 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Wall St, dollar rise with U.S. policy in focus

(Updates with U.S. trading, changes byline, previous dateline LONDON)

* Wall Street hits records helped by financials, tech

* Dollar edges higher, Brexit uncertainty weighs on sterling

* U.S. Treasury yield curve steepens; investors eye tax policy

* Oil prices slip on OPEC deal extension jitters

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street hit record highs and the dollar edged up on Tuesday as traders monitored comments from Federal Reserve chair nominee Jerome Powell and waited for progress on U.S. tax reform.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve steepened after hitting its flattest level in a decade, in what analysts viewed as a much-needed reprieve from months of flattening.

The major U.S. stock indexes rose and the S&P hit a session high during the broadcast of Powell’s confirmation hearing with their biggest boost coming from financial stocks.

“For the most part, his prepared remarks painted a similar picture to the outgoing Chair Janet Yellen’s monetary policy strategy,” said Minh Trang, senior currency trader at Silicon Valley Bank in Santa Clara, California.

“What he is trying to convey is that there is going to be consistency in the transition.”

Powell told the hearing that the best way to sustain the U.S. economic recovery would be to continue on path of gradual rate increases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 133.43 points, or 0.57 percent, to 23,714.21, the S&P 500 gained 13.52 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,614.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 17.73 points, or 0.26 percent, to 6,896.25.

European shares rose, supported by consumer staples as Anglo-Dutch Unilever said it favored a single base, and by oil and gas stocks after Royal Dutch Shell canceled an austerity dividend.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.63 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.31 percent.

The dollar index rose 0.25 percent, with the euro down 0.16 percent to $1.1877.

Hopes for U.S. tax cuts helped the greenback as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that the plans were “coming along very well.” However, Trump’s drive for tax reform faced new drama in the Senate, where two Republican lawmakers demanded changes in exchange for their help in moving the measure forward ahead of a possible vote as early as Thursday.

Meanwhile, the British pound slipped from an almost two-month high against the dollar as Brexit-related doubts began to re-exert their grip on the UK currency.

Sterling dipped 0.7 percent to $1.3219 which would be its sharpest one-day percentage decline since Nov. 2, even after the Bank of England said UK banks could handle a bad Brexit, and after the apparent aversion of an Irish political crisis that had threatened to derail a Brexit summit.

“Investors are growing more nervous about possible delays to the Brexit negotiations by the issue of the Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border,” Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange, said in a note.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 4/32 in price to yield 2.3135 percent, from 2.328 percent late on Monday.

The 30-year bond last rose 8/32 in price to yield 2.753 percent, from 2.765 percent late on Monday.

Oil prices eased on uncertainty over the outcome of an OPEC meeting this week at which an extension to its price-supporting oil output cuts will be discussed.

U.S. crude fell 0.52 percent to $57.81 per barrel and Brent was last at $63.38, down 0.72 percent on the day.

Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York, Georgina Prodhan in London, Swati Pandey in Sydney; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Zieminski

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