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Dollar bounces off six-week low as traders prepare for Powell

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Dollar bounces off six-week low as traders prepare for Powell 3

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar rebounded off six-week lows on Tuesday as investors’ focus shifted to how U.S. Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell might respond to resurgent inflation expectations, while commodity-linked currencies hovered near multi-year highs.

The recent rise in inflation expectations as investors bet on a post-pandemic economic recovery and the so-called “reflation” trade has lifted U.S. government bond yields. That had fed through to a higher dollar until earlier this month when the greenback resumed its decline.

Analysts expect Powell, who testifies before Congress at 1500 GMT, to provide some reassurance that the Fed will tolerate higher inflation without rushing to raise rates. That might calm bond markets and eventually weigh on the dollar, they said.

“Mr. Powell will very likely reiterate that the Fed is a long way from meeting its goals and that it will likely take some time before “sufficient progress” has been made to taper its bond purchase program,” UniCredit analysts said.

The dollar index was last at 90.143, up 0.1% on the day, having earlier fallen to 89.941, its weakest since Jan. 13.

Graphic: U.S. dollar index

Dollar bounces off six-week low as traders prepare for Powell 4

Positioning data shows investors overwhelmingly betting that a U.S. dollar, which has been dropping since last March, will keep falling as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Only when the spike in U.S. yields becomes more disorderly and spills forcefully into risk assets, would U.S. dollar experience an across-the-board strength,” said ING analysts in a research note.

The euro weakened 0.1% to $1.2151. Euro zone government bond yields have also been rising but the rally took a brief pause after European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Monday the bank was “closely monitoring” rising borrowing costs.

Commodity-linked currencies have been among the best performers in 2021. Surging prices for materials from oil and copper to lumber and milk powder have pushed currencies such as the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars to their highest in roughly three years.

On Tuesday, the Aussie traded down 0.2% at $0.7903 having earlier hit a high of $0.7934. The New Zealand dollar was down marginally while the Canadian dollar was just below its Monday high.

Sterling hit a new nearly three-year high of $1.4098, up 0.3% on the day, as investors stuck with their bets that a rapid rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine would allow the British economy to reopen over the next few months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid out his step-by-step plan for ending the current British lockdown on Monday.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, fell sharply below $45,000 and was last down 15% at $45,953, extending its drop from a record set on Sunday of $58,354 as investors grow nervous about sky-high valuations.

The Japanese yen, the worst performing major currency of 2021 because rising U.S. Treasury yields can lure investment from Japan, fell again. The dollar was last up 0.2% at 105.26 yen per dollar.

(Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Singapore; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise 5

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp reported higher fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday and said it would start a two-year program that will change it from a holding company to an operating company.

The news and information company, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment, a gain from an amendment to pension plan and lower costs.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit.

It was not immediately clear if adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were directly comparable to the 46 cents expected.

Thomson Reuters’ markets are healthy and evolving, making this a good time to transition the company from a content provider to a “content-driven technology company,” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in a statement.

Workplaces have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic and artificial intelligence has a larger role in professional markets, he said.

(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

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Stocks struggle as tech slide erases commodities surge

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Stocks struggle as tech slide erases commodities surge 6

By Danilo Masoni

MILAN (Reuters) – World shares struggled on Tuesday as a rally in commodity-related assets gave in to pressure on heavily weighed tech stocks and investors awaited reassurance from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on the path for monetary policy in United States.

European tech stocks were on set for their worst day in four months, down 2.7%, and futures on the Nasdaq fell 1.5% after losses in stocks like Apple and Tesla dragged the index down 2.5% on Monday.

“The prospect of a less dovish tone from central banks, sparked by rising inflation, is causing stock traders to reduce their exposure to equities, especially overbought sectors like tech,” said Pierre Veyret, analyst at ActivTrades in London.

The MSCI world equity benchmark fell 0.1% to fresh two-week lows by 1138 GMT, having earlier risen on gains in commodity-heavy equity indexes in Asia. S&P 500 futures also fell, and were last down 0.5%.

Tesla shares were set to plunge into the red for the year, hit by a fall of bitcoin, in which the electric carmaker recently invested $1.5 billion.

The level of angst was also reflected in equity volatility gauges which rose to multi-week highs, while on bond markets German and U.S. yields moved in different directions, even though both remained just below the highs hit on Monday.

After being knocked off from eight-month high by European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde signalling discomfort with the recent surge in yields, 10-year Bund yields resumed their upward trend and were last at -0.297%.

Ten-year Treasury yields were steady below Monday’s one-year high of 1.394% and were last at 1.370%.

Fed Chair Powell is expected to be equally reassuring on the central bank’s dovish stance when he gives his congressional testimony at 1500 GMT in Washington.

“If there were already any expectations that Powell could try to calm down rates, then (Lagarde’s remarks) have just further cemented them,” said Giuseppe Sersale, strategist and fund manager at Anthilia in Milan.

Commodity prices strengthened again.

Oil prices jumped by more than $1 at one point, underpinned by optimism over COVID-19 vaccine rollouts and lower output as U.S. supplies were slow to return after a deep freeze in Texas shut in crude production last week.

Brent crude was last up 0.7% at $65.7 a barrel after earlier hitting a fresh 13-month high of $66.79, while U.S. crude rose 0.8% to $62.17 a barrel.

“Oil has been caught up in the broader commodities move higher, with a weaker USD proving constructive for the complex,” ING strategists led by Warren Patterson said in a note.

“Meanwhile, there is also a growing view that the oil market is looking increasingly tight over the remainder of the year”.

Copper prices meanwhile hit a 9-1/2-year high as tight supply and solid demand from top consumer China boosted sentiment.

In currency markets, the dollar briefly dropped to its lowest since Jan. 13 ahead of Powell’s testimony, while commodity-linked currencies hovered near multi-year highs.

The dollar index was up 0.1% at 90.137, with the euro flat at $1.215.

Bitcoin fell as much as 17%, sparking a sell-off across cryptocurrency markets as investors grew nervous at sky-high valuations.

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni in Milan; additional reporting by Anshuman Daga in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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G4S urges shareholders to accept Allied deal as bid battle ends

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G4S urges shareholders to accept Allied deal as bid battle ends 7

By Yadarisa Shabong

(Reuters) – British private security group G4S on Tuesday urged shareholders to accept Allied Universal’s 3.8 billion pound ($5.4 billion) final offer after the end of the U.S. bidder’s drawn-out takeover battle with Canada’s GardaWorld.

Hostile bidder GardaWorld had called a halt to the contest on Monday by telling the UK’s Takeover Panel it would not increase its December bid of 235 pence per share for the world’s largest private security company.

Allied on Tuesday said it would not increase the 245 pence per share offer it announced on Dec. 8, making it the final bid.

G4S had backed that offer last year after repeatedly rejecting GardaWorld’s hostile advances, but low shareholder acceptance forced repeated extensions to offer deadlines.

“G4S directors unanimously recommend that G4S shareholders accept the final Allied Universal offer,” The London-listed company said.

Allied on Tuesday extended its offer deadline to March 16 and the acceptance condition was lowered to 75% from 90% in nominal value and voting rights.

It has largely obtained the required antitrust regulatory approvals in the United States and European Union, Allied Universal added, though Britain has yet to approve the deal.

“The biggest issue now is probably the pension deficit in the UK, which has constricted M&A deals in the recent past involving G4S UK businesses,” said Morningstar analyst Michael Field.

G4S last year sold most of its cash-handling business to rival Brinks Co but held on to the UK operations with attached pension obligations.

In its offer document, Allied said it planned to evaluate the possibility of exiting the prison business, where G4S has faced problems in the past, and some other markets, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Uganda.

“Allied will have to work with the pension trustees to come to an arrangement if it wishes to divest anything here (in the UK),” Field added.

Shares in G4S traded flat at 242 pence at 0855 GMT.

($1 = 0.7102 pounds)

(Refiles to restore dropped letter in headline)

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and David Goodman)

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