(New throughout, updates prices, markets activity, comment)
* Dow Jones Industrial Average down 0.1%; S&P 500 up 0.3%
* U.S. dollar rises after Fed statement
* Fed vows to keep benchmark interest rate near zero
* U.S. Treasury yields rise
NEW YORK, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Global stock indexes were mixed on Wednesday as hopes over U.S. coronavirus relief and Brexit deals were offset by increasing concerns over the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weaker-than-expected retail sales data in the United States, however, added to growing signs of a slowdown in that economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession, shining light on the need for a deal on coronavirus relief.
U.S. congressional negotiators were “closing in on” a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill that will include a new round of stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits, lawmakers and congressional aides said.
“Everyone knows that something needs to be done before the holiday,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York. “The weaker retail sales report gave a strong indication that sentiment among U.S. consumers is waning.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.47 points, or 0.05%, to 30,182.84, the S&P 500 gained 9.65 points, or 0.26%, to 3,704.27 and the Nasdaq Composite added 64.22 points, or 0.51%, to 12,659.28.
Sebastien Galy, macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management, said the prospect of a stimulus deal “is rightfully welcomed by the markets, but the size of the fiscal package is the issue.”
The Federal Reserve repeated a pledge to keep its benchmark interest rate near zero until an economic recovery is complete. The U.S. central bank also promised to keep funneling cash into financial markets further into the future to fight the recession.
“It’s a positive statement,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “They’ve married a positive projection for next year with the intention to keep an accommodative and ultra-dovish stance until they are certain the economic recovery has taken hold.”
The dollar rose after the Fed statement, having earlier fallen to its lowest level since April 2018.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, rose 0.144 point, or 0.16 percent, to 90.617. U.S. Treasury yields also rose after the Fed announcement with the 30-year yield up 1.8 basis points to 1.681%.
In Europe, markets were cheered by the possibility of a Brexit trade deal, better-than-expected euro zone PMI economic data and a European Central Bank decision to let euro zone banks start paying dividends again if they have enough capital.
European stocks rose 0.8%, earlier touching nine-month highs, with the UK’s FTSE 100 index jumping 0.9%.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 45 nations, rose 2.36 points or 0.37%, to 636.25.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 6.87 points, or 1.07%.
SHOT IN THE ARM
Progress on rolling out vaccines continued, after Moderna Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared set for regulatory authorization this week.
The United States also expanded its rollout of the newly approved vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE .
Positive soundings from the European Union on Brexit talks helped lift the British pound on Wednesday above $1.35 and to its highest level against the dollar since May 2018.
Britain and the European Union have moved closer to sealing a new trade deal, but it was still unclear if they would succeed, the bloc’s chief executive said.
The euro rose above $1.22 for the first time since April 2018, and German government bond yields, which tend to rise on positive news on the economic outlook, hit a one-week high after data showed better-than-expected business activity in the bloc this month.
A long-overdue U.S. Treasury report on the foreign exchange practices of U.S. trading partners could label several countries, including Switzerland, as currency manipulators or add them to a watchlist.
The news helped Bitcoin smash through $20,000 for the first time.
In commodities, spot gold prices rose $0.95, or 0.05%, to $1,854.41 an ounce. U.S. gold futures GCv1 settled up 0.2% at $1,859.10.
Brent crude was last up $0.32, or up 0.63%, at $51.08 a barrel. U.S. crude was last up $0.20, or up 0.42%, at $47.82 per barrel. (Reporting by Matt Scuffham; editing by Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)