The Latest: Yellen says Fed watching market developments

LONDON – The latest on the turmoil global financial markets (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says the central bank is carefully watching developments in global financial markets.

She says that while there seem to be increased fears about the possibility of a recession, the Fed has not seen a sharp drop-off in economic growth either in the United States or globally.

In her testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen stressed the Fed would be prepared to respond to changing economic conditions. Asked if the Fed might consider cutting rates if the economy faltered, Yellen said she did not expect such a move. She stressed the importance of not jumping to “a premature conclusion” about the economy.

She said: “I do not think it is going to be necessary to cut rates, but monetary policy is not on a preset course and if it turned out to be necessary, (Fed policymakers) would do what is necessary to achieve the goals Congress has set for us.”


3:30 p.m.

Stocks in the U.S. have opened strongly, taking their cue from a buoyant performance in Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.7 per cent at 16,131 while the broader S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent to 1,873. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index of European shares was trading 2 per cent higher at 316.

Traders on both sides of the Atlantic are closely monitoring Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s testimony to the House Financial Services Committee for any steer on the likelihood of another interest rate hike next month.

In prepared remarks released before her appearance, Yellen did not take the option of a March hike off the table but did say policymakers would be closely monitoring data to see what the impact of the turmoil in financial markets is having on the U.S. economy.


2:25 p.m.

Stock markets remained buoyant even though Fed Chair Janet Yellen has not explicitly ruled out a March interest rate hike from the central bank.

Instead, she suggested the central bank could slow the pace of future interest rate increases if the uncertainty in markets starts to weigh on U.S. growth.

In her semiannual report to Congress Wednesday, she noted the widening fallout from concern over China’s weaker currency and economic outlook, which has rattled financial markets.

Yellen, who answers questions from lawmakers shortly, said the path of U.S. interest rates this year will “depend on what incoming data tell us about the economic outlook.”

Ahead of that, Wall Street was set for a solid opening, with Dow futures up 0.7 per cent. It has been a big up day in Europe, with Germany’s DAX doing particularly well on the back of an 11 per cent rise in Deutsche Bank’s share price. The DAX is up 2.3 per cent at 9,080.


11:45 a.m.

Wall Street appears set to open higher as investors look ahead to comments by Janet Yellen, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Futures markets are predicting a 0.8 per cent rise for the Dow stock index at the open and a 1 per cent advance for the broader S&P 500 index. Hopes have built up through European trading hours Wednesday amid a pick-up in market sentiment after a rough start to the week.

The volatility across financial markets and a slowing global economy will be a point of focus in Yellen’s testimony to lawmakers in Washington, who will want to gauge whether the Fed will raise interest rates again anytime soon. In December, the Fed raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade and indicated that further increases, possibly as soon as March, were in the offing.


10:40 a.m.

The standout event for financial markets on Wednesday is what Janet Yellen, the chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, tells lawmakers on the House Financial Services Committee about the state of the U.S. economy.

Yellen is expected to acknowledge the risks to the U.S. economy in light of the turmoil that has gripped financial markets this year as investors have fretted over a raft of issues, notably the economic slowdown in China.

Craig Erlam, chief market analyst at OANDA, says Yellen’s comments are going to be “monitored extremely closely” and markets could be “very sensitive to them.”

Hopes that Yellen will indicate that a Fed interest rate increase in March is unlikely have helped stock markets in Europe bounce higher. In late morning trade, the Euro Stoxx 50 index was up 2.9 per cent at 2,817.


9:40 a.m.

European stock markets have built on gains at the open, with Germany’s Deutsche Bank clawing back a large chunk of its recent losses.

The bank has seen its share price tumble this year amid concerns over its financial position. The bank’s CEO sought to reassure employees on Tuesday, saying in an internal note that the company’s finances were “rock-solid.”

On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank’s share price was up 11 per cent at 14.56 euros amid reports that the bank is thinking about buying back some of its debt.

Deutsche Bank’s rally has helped Germany’s DAX spike 1.6 per cent in early trade and the Euro Stoxx 50 index to jump 2 per cent to 2,790.


8:30 a.m.

Stock markets in Europe have opened on a fairly solid note despite another sizeable 2.3 per cent reverse on Japan’s main index.

In early trading, the Euro Stoxx 50 index was up 0.7 per cent at 2,756. Investors will likely be nervous as a similarly steady opening on Tuesday soon turned sour and European markets had another big down day.

Much of the day’s trading may well hinge on what Janet Yellen, chair at the U.S. Federal Reserve, will tell lawmakers in testimony later Wednesday.

Much has changed since the Fed raised interest rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade. Confidence in the global economy has deteriorated while financial markets have been volatile — many stock markets around the world have officially hit bear market territory while oil prices have dropped to fresh multi-year lows.