By Koh Gui Qing
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks and the dollar slipped on Wednesday in listless trade after the Federal Reserve gave no clue about when it might start reducing its purchases of government bonds, even as it said the economic recovery is on track.
The Fed said after its latest policy meeting ended on Wednesday that the economy has been strengthening despite a rise in coronavirus infections, and that accelerating inflation remained the result of "transitory factors."
At a news conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said it was not yet time to think about raising interest rates, and that while the Fed has begun discussing plans to taper its bond purchases, the exact timing will depend on incoming data.
"It was a relief that there was no talk of tapering quite yet," said Ryan Detrick, a senior market strategist at LPL Financial in North Carolina. "Our view is the Fed will likely announce when tapering will start at Jackson Hole later in August."
Graphic: World FX rates YTD - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-CURRENCIES-PERFORMANCE/0100301V041/index.html
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.36%, the S&P 500 was flat, while the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite rebounded 0.7% after hitting its lowest in more than two months on Tuesday.
Any sign the Fed may tighten policy sooner than expected could unnerve markets, since its loose policy has flushed the market with cash and pushed Wall Street to record highs. Also, some investors worry the fast-spreading Delta coronavirus variant may scupper economic growth, and hope the Fed will stand pat for now.
The lack of a clear taper timeline, while expected, dragged on the dollar nonetheless. The U.S. currency had a month-long rally as investors bet a strengthening economy would spark a Fed move to taper to quell inflation pressures.
The dollar index fell 0.24%, and a weaker dollar boosted the euro up 0.28% to $1.185.
Graphic: Global asset performance - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/COMMODITIES-ASSETS/010031B62XZ/index.html#section/assets
Treasury yields initially climbed after the Fed meeting, but pulled back later. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes was down 0.3 basis points to 1.231%, and the yield on 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities climbed as high as -0.917%, before pulling back to -1.171%.
The Fed meeting aside, investor risk appetite also got a boost from signs that China's stock market might finally be steadying, after being hammered this week by concerns of a widening regulatory crackdown. [.SS]
Following two sessions of falls, the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.66% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.38%.
Chinese blue chips closed up 0.2% overnight, and Hong Kong's benchmark jumped 1.5%, but remained near nine-month lows.
The Chinese yuan also edged back from three-month lows. On Tuesday, it had its biggest daily decline since October. The offshore Chinese yuan strengthened versus the greenback at 6.4894 per dollar.
Cryptocurrency Bitcoin also bounced back above $40,000, jumping 2.4% to $40,428.38.
Graphic: Asian stock markets - https://product.datastream.com/dscharting/gateway.aspx?guid=516bc8cb-b44e-4346-bce3-06590d8e396b&action=REFRESH
Firmer risk appetites did not dent demand for safe-haven gold, which held steady near $1,800. [GOL/]
Spot gold added 0.2% to $1,802.81 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.06% to $1,800.80 an ounce.
Oil prices received a fillip after data showed U.S. crude inventories fell more sharply than analysts had forecast, overshadowing worries that a resurgent pandemic might hit demand. [O/R]
U.S. crude added 0.8% to $72.25 per barrel and Brent climbed 0.17% to $74.61.
Graphic: Chinese stocks in U.S. take a beating - https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-STOCKS/PERFORMANCE/zjvqkqyjbvx/chart.png
(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing in New York, Tom Arnold in London and Alun John in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Sujata Rao; Editing by David Gregorio and Alistair Bell)