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Dollar gains on Fed rates view, stocks falter

By Herbert Lash
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Dollar gains on Fed rates view, stocks falter

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S.

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar gained on Wednesday as improving economic data squashed the likelihood of a Federal Reserve interest rate cut in 2020, while a rally in global equity markets wavered as financials shares slipped.

Gold eased, tugged lower by a firmer dollar that has found support from mounting expectations the Fed will not cut rates anytime soon.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> closed down 0.05%, trading modestly higher for most of the session after declining overnight in Asia. Emerging market stocks rose 0.60%, with Brazil's Bovespa index hitting a record high.

European shares traded mixed as gains in Swedish truck maker Volvo and defensive sectors offset worries about a hard Brexit, which continued to pressure British mid-cap shares.

Most regional bourses in Europe hovered around lows touched on Tuesday, when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a hard deadline of December 2020 to reach a new trade deal over Britain's exit from the European Union.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> lost 0.13%.

There are jitters regarding the Phase One U.S.-China trade deal as it has yet to be signed, said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management in Luxembourg.

"We are in a wait-and-see mode, momentum has been strong and should continue into year end," Galy said.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq clawed to record highs, with Nasdaq posting an all-time closing high. Hopes for a U.S.-China trade deal had propelled the two indexes to record closing levels for four straight sessions.

Shares of FedEx Corp's <FDX.N> fell 10% after the package delivery company issued its second warning for fiscal 2020 profit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 27.88 points, or 0.1%, to 28,239.28. The S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 1.38 points, or 0.04%, to 3,191.14 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 4.38 points, or 0.05%, to 8,827.74.

Expectations the Fed will cut rates from the current 1.5% to 1.75% range are a mere 2.2% for the U.S. central bank's January meeting, 4.3% for March and 12% for April, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool. The FedWatch tool shows a 50% chance that rates will remain at current levels through December 2020.

The dollar index <.DXY> rose 0.19%, with the euro <EUR=> down 0.31% to $1.1114. The Japanese yen <JPY=> weakened 0.10% versus the greenback at 109.60 per dollar.

U.S. Treasury yields were steady as investors shrugged off the likely impeachment in the lower house of Congress of U.S. President Donald Trump on charges of abusing his office and obstructing a congressional probe.

Separate votes on the two charges are expected in the early evening. The votes are expected to fall almost entirely along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note <US10YT=RR> fell 11/32 in price to lift its yield to 1.9274%.

Yields on European government debt edged higher as the market bet negative rates are not here forever with Sweden's central bank set to move away from negative rates on Thursday, Galy said.

German business morale rose more than expected in December to a six-month high, the Ifo survey showed on Wednesday, suggesting that Europe's largest economy picked up steam in the fourth quarter.

The yield on the German 10-year bund <DE10YT=RR> rose almost 4 basis points to -0.251%.

Oil prices steadied after U.S. government data showed a decline in crude inventories and on expectations for an uptick in demand next year on the back of progress in resolving the U.S.-China trade fight.

Brent futures <LCOc1> gained 7 cents to settle at $66.17 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) <CLc1> settled down 1 cent at $60.93 a barrel.

U.S. gold futures <GCv1> inched down 0.1% to settle at $1,478.70 an ounce.

GRAPHIC: MSCI's World Stock Index - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/10147/10058/MSCI1812.png

GRAPHIC: Global assets in 2019 - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/COMMODITIES-ASSETS/010031B62XZ/index.html

GRAPHIC: World FX rates in 2019 - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-CURRENCIES-PERFORMANCE/0100301V041/index.html

GRAPHIC: MSCI All Country World Index Market Cap - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-MARKETS/010060TL1KC/index.html

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; additional reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe, Wayne Cole in Sydney; editing by Nick Zieminski and Leslie Adler)