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Trump touts stock market’s record run, but who benefits?

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(Reuters) – Donald Trump loves to trumpet the hot U.S. stock market as a key achievement of his presidency, and he was in full self-congratulatory mode on that front during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis/POOL

“All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 percent and even more,” Trump said in his address to a joint session of Congress.

While pensions and retirement funds were lifted by the rise in stock markets, the president has avoided talking about one key point about who really benefits when the market rallies: Most of the gains go to the small portion of Americans who are already rich.

That’s because 84% of stocks owned by U.S. households are held by the wealthiest 10% of Americans, according to an analysis of 2016 Federal Reserve data by Edward Wolff, an economics professor at New York University. So when the stock market has a blockbuster year – such as the nearly 30% rise in the S&P 500 benchmark index in 2019 – the payoff primarily goes to people who are already rich.

“For most Americans, a stock price increase is pretty immaterial to their well-being,” said Wolff, who published a paper about wealth inequality in the National Bureau of Economic Research in 2017.

Roughly half of Americans own some stocks through a brokerage account or a pension or retirement fund. But for most people, the exposure is too small for market gains to be life-changing or leave them feeling much better about their finances, Wolff said. “They’ll see a small increase in their wealth, but it’s not going to be anything to write home about,” he said.

Graphic: The stock boom’s unequal gains png, here

What’s more, nearly 90% of families who own stock do so through a tax-deferred retirement account, meaning they can’t access the money until they reach retirement age, unless they pay a penalty, Wolff said.

So who owns most of the stock market? The majority of corporate equities and mutual fund shares are held by investors who are white, college educated and above the age of 54, according to an analysis from the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The typical middle-class family gets the bulk of its wealth from the housing market. Households in the middle three quintiles of wealth held 61.9% of their assets in their principal residence in 2016, according to Wolff’s analysis. That compares to households in the top 1%, who held 7.6% of their wealth in their homes.

Because most consumers accumulate the majority of their wealth through their homes, a rise in property values can provide a more substantial boost to household wealth than a stock market rally, said William Emmons, lead economist at the St. Louis Fed’s Center for Household Financial Stability.

Still, the recent revival in the housing market, spurred in part by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cuts, is not helping all Americans equally. Rising property values benefit homeowners but make it harder for aspiring home buyers to break into the market, said Eugene Steuerle, co-founder of the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture between the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

And some people who bought homes immediately before the recession hit may still be trying to recover their losses, Steuerle said. Their wealth may have been wiped out by foreclosure, meaning they then struggled to qualify for a new mortgage during the recovery, he said.

That’s in sharp contrast to well-off investors, whose overall wealth surged after the crisis thanks to strong returns on stocks, property and other investments. Some 72% of wealth accumulated between the third quarter of 2009 and the third quarter of 2019 went to the richest 10% of households, according to an analysis by Oxford Economics. Over that same time period, the poorest 50% of households reaped only 2% of wealth gains.

“There are a lot of families that have not yet recovered from the financial crisis,” Emmons said.

Some more evidence that the recent stock market boom is not making everyone feel richer: There has been little evidence of the “wealth effect,” which says that people tend to spend more when stock markets are up, said Lydia Boussour, a senior economist for Oxford Economics.

Since the recession, people have mostly continued to increase their savings even as the stock market rose. “Consumers are a lot more cautious,” she said.

Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Dan Burns and Leslie Adler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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LSE’s bid for Refinitiv spotlights quest for knowledge, globality

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LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – London Inventory Alternate Group Plc’s (LSE.L) deliberate buy of Refinitiv in a $27 billion deal is the most recent signal that trade operators are focusing extra on knowledge merchandise to extend income, whereas additionally attempting to develop their international attain.

FILE PHOTO: An commercial for Refinitiv is seen on a display screen in London’s Canary Wharf monetary centre, London, Britain, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

For greater than a decade, trade operators across the globe have been attempting to consolidate. However proposed tie-ups between main rivals have failed a number of instances up to now due to resistance from authorities authorities who both had antitrust issues or didn’t desire a international firm working what was typically seen as a nationwide image.

On the identical time, earnings from the normal enterprise of facilitating transactions like inventory trades have fallen, pushing the business to search for associated companies for development, analysts and business sources mentioned.

As a result of income from knowledge merchandise has been rising and is predicted to proceed doing so, exchanges are actually hungry for these merchandise in addition to promoting companies primarily based off that knowledge and data, similar to indexes and fee-based companies they’ll supply as soon as a commerce has cleared.

“Information is the lifeblood of monetary markets immediately now greater than ever – and that knowledge is getting increasingly helpful,” mentioned Kevin McPartland, head of market construction and expertise analysis at Greenwich Associates.

If accomplished, LSE’s deal to purchase Refinitiv, a worldwide monetary knowledge analytics supplier, from buyout agency Blackstone Group Inc (BX.N) and Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) will match that mould, the analysts mentioned.

“It simply makes them extra aggressive and extra interesting as a companion for purchasers as a result of it brings collectively much more than what LSE had earlier than,” mentioned Spencer Mindlin, an Aite Group analyst who focuses on capital markets buying and selling expertise.

LSE and Thomson Reuters declined to remark for this text, referring to their earlier statements that confirmed they have been in discussions for a deal. Blackstone didn’t have an instantaneous remark.

In its assertion, LSE mentioned a deal would assist develop its knowledge and distribution capabilities, diversify buying and selling capabilities and improve international footprint, permitting it to learn from “future data- and technology-enabled development alternatives.”

LSE mentioned it expects to chop greater than 350 million kilos in annual prices for 5 years after the deal closes, and add to its earnings per share within the first full 12 months after completion.

GLOBAL EXPANSION

Refinitiv relies in London and reaches greater than 40,000 shoppers, who’re largely merchants and funding professionals, in additional than 190 international locations.

Patrick Younger, an business guide at Alternate Make investments, mentioned LSE’s deal for Refinitiv can be “a significant pivot away from the EU” for the trade operator.

Simply final month, London Inventory Alternate Chief Govt David Schwimmer mentioned it was tough even to contemplate large mergers due to political opposition.

The corporate failed a number of instances to merge with Germany’s Deutsche Boerse AG .GDAXI and beforehand failed to amass Canada’s principal trade, TSX Inc.

These collapsed offers mirror proposed cross-border marriages that didn’t work, together with Singapore Alternate Ltd’s (SGXL.SI) try to purchase Australia’s ASX Ltd (ASX.AX) in 2011.

QUEST TO DIVERSIFY

Main exchanges, together with Intercontinental Alternate Inc (ICE.N), Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) and Deutsche Boerse, have been extra profitable in inking smaller offers that diversify their companies away from fundamental inventory buying and selling.

Probably the most fundamental companies that exchanges present are real-time market knowledge feeds. In the US, that generates about $1.four billion in annual income for the business, in response to Greenwich Associates. Exchanges generate billions extra in knowledge income past that for associated services.

Buyers and banks that pay for the data have been pushing again on pricing. Some funding companies have known as on the European Union’s markets watchdog ESMA to overview market knowledge charges, saying they carry on rising regardless of falling prices of computing and knowledge storage.

At London Inventory Alternate, former chief government Xavier Rolet started to diversify income after taking the helm in 2009.

FILE PHOTO: The London Inventory Alternate Group places of work are seen within the Metropolis of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

In the present day, info companies account for practically 40% of the group’s 2.14 billion kilos ($2.65 billion) in annual revenues, in response to its 2018 annual report. That portion is adopted by post-trade companies at simply over one-third.

Conventional capital markets enterprise like inventory buying and selling and preliminary public choices accounted for simply 19% of income final 12 months, in contrast with round 46% a decade in the past.

(This story corrects paragraph 19 to interchange reference to “consolidated market feeds” with “real-time market knowledge feeds”).

Further reporting by Michelle Worth in Washington D.C., Noor Zainab Hussain in Bangalore and Pamela Barbaglia in London; Modifying by Lauren LaCapra, Paritosh Bansal and Daniel Wallis

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Bayer could benefit from home advantage in St. Louis Roundup cancer trial: experts

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ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), facing an upcoming trial in St. Louis over allegations that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, has recruited Missouri-based expert witnesses to make its case in a place where it has century-old roots but where juries often hit companies with huge damages.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the facade of the historic headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Four expert witnesses Bayer is seeking to admit hail from Missouri universities, and some legal experts said the company is trying to clinch its first favorable Roundup verdict by emphasizing its reputation as a major local employer.

Bayer on Tuesday announced it would create an additional 500 “high-paying” jobs in the St. Louis area. The Bayer unit that makes the glyphosate-based herbicide, the former Monsanto Co, was founded in St. Louis in 1901. Monsanto employed 5,400 full-time employees in the St. Louis area as of May 2018, according to company statements.

The trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court, expected to begin on Aug. 19, was brought by Illinois resident Sharlean Gordon, who says she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup for around 14 years at her home. It is the fourth trial over Roundup and the first one outside of California, where three juries hit Bayer with verdicts as large as $2 billion. Bayer is appealing those verdicts.

Bayer denies glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer, saying decades of studies have shown glyphosate to be safe. The company said it looked forward to presenting the scientific evidence to juries. It said the experts in the upcoming St. Louis trial are at the top of their field and were selected for their expertise, not their Missouri ties.

The Germany-based company has lost nearly 40 billion euros ($33.75 billion) in market valuation since the first Roundup jury verdict in August 2018. Bayer last month announced it had set up a committee to help resolve the litigation, saying it would “constructively engage” in court-mandated mediation talks.

NEW WITNESSES

Bayer has said in court papers and hearings that juries in California’s traditionally liberal Bay Area, where the first three trials took place, were unfairly influenced by news coverage of the trials and harbored negative attitudes toward Monsanto in part because of its development of genetically modified seeds.

The company’s experts in those cases came mostly from states other than California. In the St. Louis trial, Bayer is so far seeking to admit a total of 14 scientific expert witnesses. None previously testified in the Roundup litigation.

Of the more than 13,400 Roundup claims nationwide that have yet to go to trial, about 75% have been filed in St. Louis city or county courts, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. Those courts have a history of issuing large punitive damages against companies and have often been criticized by business groups for issuing favorable plaintiffs rulings.

By suing in the county where Bayer’s crop science business is headquartered, plaintiffs can also take advantage of procedural rules allowing them to compel live testimony from executives who work locally. In the California trials, jurors only saw video depositions of Monsanto executives.

David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School, said Bayer appeared to be hiring local experts to appeal to St. Louis jurors. “(They) are not seen as hired guns, flying in from afar, but … can explain the case in a way local jurors understand,” Noll said.

But Alexandra Lahav, a law professor at the University of Connecticut, said Bayer could simply be using new experts that the company thinks would have a better rapport with the jury and “not necessarily because the experts are local.”

Counting on a more favorable jury pool in a company’s backyard is not a new tactic.

New Jersey-based Merck & Co (MRK.N), which in the early 2000s faced thousands of lawsuits by patients over its Vioxx painkiller, won several trials in New Jersey, which plaintiffs lawyers at the time attributed to the company’s strong ties to the state.

Merck in 2013 settled some 27,000 Vioxx claims for $4.85 billion.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in St. Louis; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis

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Hey big spender – how luxury brands are raising the stakes on Instagram

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PARIS (Reuters) – Big-spending luxury brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior are splashing out on everything from dance-fuelled fashion shows to teams of advisers as they target social media platforms in the hunt for young shoppers.

FILE PHOTO: Models present creations by French designer Nicolas Ghesquiere as part of his Fall/Winter 2019-2020 women’s ready-to-wear collection show for Louis Vuitton during the Paris Fashion Week in Paris, France, March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Without the entry barriers of magazine advertising – where a one page glossy ad can cost tens of thousands of dollars – sites like Instagram, a fashionista favorite, have allowed unknown labels to find an audience with canny or eye-catching campaigns.

But big bucks are changing the game as cash rich luxury goods groups like LVMH and Kering hike their social media budgets, giving them vast means to drown out rivals on platforms once seen as a leveler for brands big and small.

As the use of bloggers and influencers becomes mainstream, fees per sponsored post commanded by those with four million followers have reached well over 20,000 euros ($22,546), according to marketing experts.

Less active than some smaller brands on networking platforms even five years ago, luxury’s leading players are now leapfrogging the competition.

Kering – owner of fast-growing Gucci, which scored the highest level of publicity impact on social media last year according to data trackers Tribe Dynamics – on Friday said that half its 2018 media budget was spent on digital advertising, up from 20 percent only three years earlier.

“There’s a big shift in how we’re thinking about advertising and creating aspiration,” Kering’s digital chief Gregory Boutte told journalists on the sidelines of an investor day.

“Now with every type of social platform, you need different types of videos, of pictures. You don’t create content on YouTube as you do on TV.”

Kering does not reveal its total advertising expenditure.

Its cross-town rival LVMH increased its total marketing spending at the fastest rate in seven years in 2018 to 5.6 billion euros ($6.3 billion), reaching 12% of group revenues – more than most brands that disclose this budget and topped only by another big online trendsetter, privately-owned Chanel.

Louis Vuitton, LVMH’s major sales driver, also now allocates half its marketing costs to digital media, the brand’s CEO Michael Burke said at a closed-door briefing this week, according to Citi analysts.

LVMH declined to comment.

Vuitton, as well as LVMH’s Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs and Givenchy labels were among Tribe Dynamics’ top 10 brands last year, with Kering’s Saint Laurent and Balenciaga also making the cut. The firm quantifies how much social media buzz is worth, including non-paid for content.

EMBRACING THE NEW

Rewind three years, and Italy’s Valentino, seven times smaller then than Vuitton, outflanked peers in the Instagram stakes, coming first in a listing by Engagement Labs which measured the most effective brands on social media.

Valentino’s formula was simple, mixing content generated by fans with its own professional photos, while answering online comments – a standard approach for labels now, but which helped fuel a sales spike at the Mayhoola-owned firm at the time.

Valentino’s Instagram followers have doubled to 12.4 million since, though revenue growth has slowed; Vuitton’s followers have almost tripled to 32.1 million, and revenues are still expanding at a robust pace.

Marketing investments are just one factor separating luxury brands riding high on demand from markets like China and those struggling to make a mark, with product designs and funkier store strategies playing a role too.

And funds only go so far, with social media savvy also making a difference.

Gucci co-designed a collection in 2016 with “Guccighost”, a street artist who painted quirky versions of its logos around New York and posted them online, helping its social media credentials, Tribe Dynamics’ co-founder Conor Begley said.

“Gucci embraced those connections. Usually a brand would have sent attorneys after him,” Begley said. “That sends a message to other content creators who think ‘Oh My God, maybe I’ll get to work with Gucci’ if I post about them”.

BIG GROUPS, BIG MEANS

As digital investments rise, mid-sized luxury labels are now in an increasingly awkward spot as they try and stay visible.

“The ones that are suffering are those in the middle, of an average size, which are stuck between the small innovative pure digital players and the big groups with big means,” said Michael Jais, CEO of Launchmetrics, which compiles digital data on the fashion industry.

Italian shoemaker Tod’s is among a clutch of brands in turnaround mode investing more in social media in a bid to revive sales – a strategy welcomed by analysts but which will likely keep weighing on its profit margins, some said.

FILE PHOTO: A model presents a creation during the Cruise 2020 collection show for French fashion house Dior in Marrakech, Morocco, April 29, 2019. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal/File Photo

Analysts at HSBC, which have a “reduce” rating on Tod’s, said in a note this week that it was losing ground and “facing intense competitive pressure” as LVMH and Kering pushed funds into online marketing.

Just over 10% of social media influencers earned $100,000 or more a year in 2018, according to a Launchmetrics report, compared to 3.7% in 2017, though hiring the most popular bloggers is only one of the costs involved.

“The big groups understood they had to invest more in experiences – what happens around a catwalk show, exhibits, store openings,” said Uche Pezard, CEO of Luxe Corp, which advises brands on strategy. “That’s what’s expensive, not the technology. That’s what’s changed in the past five to eight years.”

Reporting by Sarah White and Pascale Denis; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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Huawei’s $105 billion business at stake after U.S. broadside

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HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – The latest U.S. broadside against Huawei that puts the Chinese firm on an exports blacklist threatens to rattle the global tech supply chain, linked closely to the $105 billion business of the world’s top supplier of telecoms network equipment.

The Trump administration has said it would add Huawei Technologies and 70 affiliates to its “Entity List” – a move that will likely ban the firm from acquiring U.S. components and technology without government approval, adding another incendiary element to the U.S.-China trade war.

The ban is not yet effective.

A similar U.S. ban on China’s ZTE Corp had almost crippled business for the smaller Huawei rival early last year before the curb was lifted.

Such sanctions on Huawei are, however, likely to have ramifications beyond the company itself, analysts said.

It would disrupt Huawei’s business at a minimum and all but put it out of business in an extreme, while its U.S. suppliers would also be hit, they said.

Out of $70 billion Huawei spent for component procurement in 2018, some $11 billion went to U.S. firms including Qualcomm, Intel Corp and Micron Technology Inc, and they could see that revenue disappear.

On the other hand, U.S. companies like Apple face the risk of severe retaliation from China, a key market.

“This is going to be very messy,” a China-based source at a U.S. tech company said.

It will be tough for Huawei too, the person said, noting none of its U.S. suppliers “can be replaced by Chinese ones, not within a few years, at least. By then, they are already dead”.

Revenue for the company, also the world’s second-biggest maker of smartphones, touched 721 billion yuan ($105 billion) last year, eight times ZTE’s and half the annual sales of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co.

But its business has come under pressure over the past year given mounting international scrutiny, led by U.S. allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying, a concern the company has said is unfounded.

Huawei’s American suppliers: tmsnrt.rs/2LO1Kxp

STOCKPILING

A range of Asian and European suppliers would also be hurt if Huawei was forced to curb production, while telecom carriers that rely on Huawei, and have largely resisted U.S. calls to bar the company, would be left scrambling just as countries race to roll out next-generation 5G mobile networks.

“Huawei being unable to manufacture network servers, for example, because they can’t get key U.S. components would mean they also stop buying parts from other countries altogether,” said an executive at a Huawei chip supplier.

“They can relatively better manage component sourcing for mobile phones because they have their own component businesses for smartphones. But server and network, it’s a different story,” the executive said.

According to brokerage Jefferies, the sanctions would mean a “nightmare for China’s 5G” too. The country, which is targeting a nationwide rollout next year, will very likely slow down its 5G push as a result, it added.

However, industry participants pointed out that Huawei had been stockpiling components such as chips to ease disruptions.

Its initial target was to build inventories of six to nine months, and it has recently been raised to 12 and, in some cases, 24 months, Jefferies said.

Shares in Huawei suppliers fell across in Asia on the news of the U.S. blacklist.

South Korea’s Samsung dropped 2.4%, SK Hynix fell 3.5%, while China’s Luxshare Precision Industry fell as much as 6.1%. Shares in ZTE also tumbled.

Huawei has said it is “ready and willing to engage with the U.S. government and come up with effective measures to ensure product security”.

Its rotating Chairman Eric Xu also told Reuters in a recent interview that “in case of unforeseen events … we definitely have our contingency plan. What we have prepared has already been used in some of our products in the Chinese market”.

Huawei has spearheaded China’s campaign to develop its own high-end technologies to reduce reliance on imports and such efforts have taken on urgency after U.S. sanctions on ZTE.

The ZTE case led to some “benefits” and “external pressures have developed into internal drivers” in China, said Wan Gang, vice chairman of China’s parliamentary advisory body.

TRADE TALKS

The pain for Huawei’s supply chain would be redoubled if the trade war put a damper on the Chinese technology industry.

“The bigger concern would be U.S. allies that used to buy Huawei’s components may not continue businesses with Huawei, because of fear of possibly upsetting the United States,” said Doh Hyun-woo, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities in Seoul.

The Trump administration’s rhetoric toward China had cooled in recent days after another round of tariffs between the world’s top two economies and a selloff on global stock markets.

Tensions escalated on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring American companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms deemed to pose a national security risk.

While the president’s order did not specifically name any country or company, U.S. officials have previously labeled Huawei a “threat”.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors walk past Huawei’s booth during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

“The U.S. seems to have already decided to nail Huawei down,” said the China-based U.S. tech company source.

“The problem is that because there doesn’t seem to be a prospect for a trade deal in the near future, the U.S. has expedited the process of killing Huawei.”

(Story refiled to amend headline)

Reporting by Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong, Josh Horwitz in Shanghai, Ju-min Park and Heekyong Yang in Seoul, Michael Martina and Cate Cadell in Beijing, Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo; Writing Miyoung Kim; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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Strong stock and bond markets at odds over global growth

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – It looks like something has to give in global markets.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Stocks and bonds around the world have rallied atypically together since the start of the year, rewarding investors both bullish and bearish on the direction of global growth.

The main catalyst for the gains was the Federal Reserve’s surprise decision in early January to pause its tightening policy, after four interest rate increases in 2018 raised fears it was being too aggressive as the economy cooled and inflation remained minimal. Those fears helped send global markets into a tailspin in December.

Yet with the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 near a record level and corporate junk bonds notching new highs, the question stock and bond investors are asking is whether the Fed’s next move will be a rate cut that further propels risk assets or a rate hike that cuts into the stock market’s momentum.

A move by the Fed on interest rates or a communication misstep by the central bank would likely end either the rally in the stock market or in investment-grade bonds by the end of the year, restoring the traditional give-and-take between risk and safety, investors say.

“The Fed is between a rock and a hard place,” said Kathleen Gaffney, a portfolio manager at Eaton Vance Management in Boston. “They can’t go lower because there are signs that inflation is rising and they can’t go higher because of global political uncertainty. It leaves the market on pause.”

The U.S. central bank has said it will soon stop letting bonds bought during its “quantitative easing” period following the financial crisis roll off its balance sheet, which also helped push yields on safe havens like Treasuries lower and acted as a tailwind for riskier assets.

Gaffney said the Fed will likely have to raise rates again because of rising wages and other forms of inflation by the end of the year, adding that such a move will “pierce” the high valuations in both the stocks and bond markets.

TWIN RALLY

The rolling four-month percentage change in the price of the S&P 500 and the 10-Year Treasury note have both been positive for three straight months, according to a Reuters analysis. That is the longest such streak since a five-month run that ended in August 2017, it showed.

In that same 2017 period, the S&P 500 gained and 10-year Treasury yields fell as the market digested conflicting economic reports during the first year of the Trump administration, before the Federal Reserve in September began quantitative tightening that resulted in bond yields rising as the S&P 500 continued to rally.

Since January equity markets around the world have made up much of the ground they lost during a wrenching fourth quarter of 2018 that sent the U.S. stock market to the brink of a bear market.

The S&P 500 and Europe’s STOXX 600 are up almost 16% year to date, while stock indexes in China are up nearly 30%.

The ICE Merrill Lynch U.S. high yield index is up 8.6% year to date while the Merrill Lynch World sovereign bond index is up almost 1.5%.

World stocks vs bonds – tmsnrt.rs/2IrqXeF

A rally in benchmark 10-year Treasury notes, usually seen as a safe haven, undercuts the picture of a “risk on” market. Their yields have slid from 2.69% at the start of the year to as low as 2.34% in late March.

“At this point in the cycle, equity investors are trying to take any incremental news positively while fixed income investors are not,” said Jen Robertson, a portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management in London. “It’s quite delicate at the moment and any negative news out of first quarter earnings could impact this sharp bounce.”

Further uncertainty due to the economic impact of the UK leaving the European Union, which has now been pushed back to Oct. 31, or a deterioration in U.S.-China trade talks could be a “shock to the system” and derail both stocks and bonds, she said.

The spread between U.S. three-month bills and 10-year notes turned negative for the first time since 2007 in March, a bearish sign as a yield curve inversion has signaled an upcoming economic recession in the past.

The move initially boosted stock prices as investors predicted it would hem the Fed in from future interest rate hikes. But equities could fall soon if recession fears continue to grow, said Hiroaki Hayashi, managing director of Fukoku Capital Management in Tokyo.

“If you look at the past experiences, share prices have often rallied six to nine months after the yield curve initially inverted before entering a major correction. I believe we are exactly at such a phase now.”

Despite outsized gains this year, financial markets have not indicated investors have faith that the global economy can grow without historically low interest rates a decade after the end of the Great Recession, said Anwiti Bahuguna, head of multi-asset strategy at Columbia Threadneedle Investments.

“The bull market we’ve had for the past 10 years is essentially because of really low interest rates,” Bahuguna said.

“I don’t think that equilibrium will last much longer,” she added, saying rising inflation and low unemployment could soon test global markets’ ability to cope with tighter monetary policy.

Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Terence Gabriel in New York.; Editing by Alden Bentley and Tom Brown

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