The House approved a stopgap spending bill on Tuesday to avert a government shutdown. The measure passed with bipartisan support after Speaker Mike Johnson relied on Democratic votes as conservatives dissented over a lack of spending cuts. The "laddered" plan extends funding in two parts into early 2024, giving more time for longer-term spending negotiations. Despite objections from the right flank, leaders endorsed the pragmatic approach to prevent federal agencies from halting operations and paychecks days before Thanksgiving. Just earlier this week, Moody's cautioned that the risk of a downgrade exists due to ongoing political polarisation, which may hinder Congress from reaching a consensus on a fiscal plan to address declining debt affordability.
The Dow edged up while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed flat Wednesday as Target's robust earnings lifted retailers, offsetting declines in tech. Optimism grew that the Fed may avoid further rate hikes after producer prices grew flat and retail sales dipped slightly. Tech names including Nvidia snapped their winning streak as Microsoft launched a chip to compete in the AI space.
Gold prices traded flat in Asia as the dollar firmed following strong US retail sales, tempering support from lower inflation that signalled the Fed nearing the end of its tightening cycle. However, hawkish comments from the San Francisco Fed President kept gains in check while softer producer prices and consumer inflation reinforced bets for a December pause in rate hikes.
Oil prices tumbled further into bearish territory as swelling US inventories and worries about Asian demand overshadowed bullish IEA and OPEC outlooks. Despite China's mixed economic data and steady US fuel draws, records for domestic crude stockpiles and production joined with broader economic jitters to spur sales. Looking ahead, loosening OPEC control could signal more trouble for crude prices, barring an unlikely demand surge or supply shock.
The greenback bounced back from recent lows on upbeat US retail data, which brewed uncertainty over future rate cuts, though broader dollar weakness lingered on cooling inflation. Asian currencies drifted as they tracked the dollar's recovery, while the yuan was buoyed briefly by solid Chinese data before property sector concerns resurfaced.