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Wall Street hits records as rate cut hopes lift investor spirits

WT24 Desk

NEW YORK – All three of Wall Street’s main indices popped to fresh records on Friday, ending the week on an emphatic note as investors grew increasingly confident the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at the end of the month, AFP reports.

In congressional testimony this week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome
Powell told lawmakers “crosscurrents” increased risks to the US economic
outlook — strongly suggesting a rate cut was in the cards at the Fed’s next
policy meeting in less than three weeks.

The broad-based S&P 500 closed above the 3,000-mark for the first time
ever.

Jack Ablin of Cresset Wealth Advisors said investors also were encouraged
by the outlook for what could be a better-than-expected corporate revenues.

However, with corporate earnings season set to begin in earnest, S&P 500
companies are forecast to see weaker profit growth compared to last year,
according to FactSet. It would be the second consecutive quarter of slowing
profit, something that has not happened in three years.

“But the next question we expect is: where do we go from there?” he said.

“The market needs to feed on something. The appetite of the market for low
rates is insatiable. The question now is can they shift their attention to
earnings.”

While the positive sentiment initially filtered through to Asia and Europe
on Friday, the momentum petered out in late European trading.

Meanwhile, China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in nearly three
decades in the second quarter, hit by the US-China trade war and weakening global demand, according to an AFP survey of analysts.

The world’s second largest economy likely expanded 6.2 percent in April-
June, according to the poll of 10 economists ahead of the official gross
domestic product report Monday.

– Oil prices rise –

Elsewhere, geopolitical tensions rose after armed Iranian boats threatened
a British oil tanker earlier in the week provided support for oil prices,
although gains were limited by longer-term oversupply concerns.

Iran’s menacing of the BP supertanker on Wednesday appeared to be in
retaliation for Britain’s seizure of the Iranian Grace 1 tanker off Gibraltar
on July 4.

“With Iran seeking retribution for the UK’s actions around Gibraltar,
there is a distinct possibility that we could see an upside shock to prices,”
said IG trading group analyst Joshua Mahony.

Britain said it will send a second warship to the Gulf, while the Pentagon
said it was discussing military escorts for vessels in the Gulf.

But the rises in oil prices as a result of the incident have been capped
by an oversupplied oil market, according to traders.

And the IEA on Friday said the recent decision by oil producing countries
to prolong cuts in output will not fundamentally change the outlook for the
market.

– Key figures around 2100 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 27,332.03 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.5 percent at 3,013.77 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.6 percent at 8,244.14 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 7,505.97 points (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 5,572.86 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 12,323.32 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 3,497.63 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 21,685.90 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 28,471.62 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 6,696.50 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1270 from $1.1255 at 2130 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2576 from $1.2526

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.89 yen from 108.45 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 20 cents at $66.72 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1 cent at $60.21 per barrel

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