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Shares flat, US Treasury yields weaken as markets weigh Fed chair comments

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
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Shares flat, US Treasury yields weaken as markets weigh Fed chair comments

By Chibuike Oguh

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Global stocks were flat while U.S. Treasury yields dipped on Tuesday as markets weighed data showing a continuing tight labor market as well as prospects of interest rate cuts after comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The Fed still needs more data before cutting interest rates to ensure recent weaker inflation readings properly reflect underlying price pressures, Powell told a conference in Portugal on Tuesday.

His comments came after Labor Department data on Tuesday showed job openings, a measure of labor demand, rose by 221,000 to 8.140 million on the last day of May, the lowest level since February 2021 and slightly ahead of Wall Street expectations.

The yield on benchmark U.S. 10-year notes fell 3.2 basis points to 4.447%.

“Listening to some of his comments, it seems he’s laying the groundwork for cuts maybe in September, that’s where the market thinks they’re going to start,” said James St. Aubin, chief investment officer at Sierra Mutual Funds in Santa Monica, California.

“We saw a little bit of an increase in job openings, so that seems to suggest that the labor market is hanging in there. Bond yields were lower, I think partly because of what Powell was talking about, you know seeming more of a dovish tone,” St. Aubin added.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe rose 0.03% to 804.05. In Europe, the STOXX 600 index fell 0.44% as the relief rally in French shares following the first round of parliamentary elections faded.

On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 was flat in choppy trading with consumer discretionary and utilities stocks leading gainers while healthcare and energy equities were among the biggest drags.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.42 points, or 0.14%, to 39,115.10, the S&P 500 gained 0.25 points, or 0.00%, to 5,475.19 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 21.71 points, or 0.12%, to 17,901.01.

Oil prices pared earlier gains as the forecast track for Hurricane Beryl continued to aim away from major offshore production areas in the U.S.-regulated northern Gulf of Mexico.

Brent fell 0.01% to $86.60 per barrel, while U.S. crude lost 0.24% to $83.19 a barrel.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies including the yen and the euro, fell 0.04% to 105.80. The euro was down 0.05% at $1.0733.

Against the Japanese yen , the dollar strengthened 0.06% at 161.56. It hit 161.745 on Tuesday, its strongest level in nearly 38 years, driven mainly by a wide gap in interest rates between the U.S. and Japan.

Gold prices slipped. Spot gold lost 0.34% to $2,323.71 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures fell 0.08% to $2,325.80 an ounce.

($1 = 161.5900 yen)

(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New YorkEditing by Chris Reese)