Fed fillip, double trouble, triple A

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A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan.

It looks less like fighting the Fed, than a mild disagreement.

As the Federal Reserve slowed the pace of its interest rate rates on Wednesday to a quarter point, but with a promise of more, Wall St surged - comforted by Chair Jerome Powell's reluctance to loudly protest market pricing for peak rates by June, and easing by year-end.

Powell didn't endorse that market view - which now has just one more quarter point rise to a terminal rate under 4.9% by May and 40 basis points of cuts from there by December. But he seemed ambivalent about investors' more optimistic take on disinflation and indicated the central bank was increasingly keeping its options open about a 'couple of hikes'.

"We can now say for the first time that the disinflationary process has started," Powell told reporters, adding he was "not particularly concerned" about market pricing - when many have expected him to push back harder to stymie a premature easing of broader financial conditions.

With the U.S. labour market a key ingredient in how the Fed sees the disinflation process playing out, a notable slowing in private sector hiring last month will encourage speculation for similar easing of the super-tight jobs market in Friday's release of the January national payrolls report.

Aided by a quarterly refunding schedule and some tentative signs of compromise on the debt ceiling row, 10-year Treasury yields dropped more than 10bp to less than 3.40%. The dollar swooned .DXY, falling to its lowest since April last year.

By the close, the S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq .IXIC added 1% and 2% respectively and stock futures are extending that rally early on Thursday - helped by a near 20% rocketing of Meta's share price META.O after the bell.

Meta's stock boomed as its earnings update showed stricter cost controls and a new $40 billion share buyback.

The wave of optimism comes as Big Tech trio Apple, Amazon and Alphabet report after the close on Thursday.

The VIX index .VIX of U.S. stock volatility fell to its lowest level in more than a year.

The dovish take on the Fed now gets a potentially more hawkish follow-up from the European Central Bank and Bank of England - both of whom are forecast to stick with half point interest rate rises later on Thursday.

With the risk around the BoE's split monetary policy council for a smaller quarter point move, it was the euro that looks set to emerge the winner of the three big central bank events. The euro/dollar exchange rate EUR= hit its highest in nine-months.

And in a reminder of how new year optimism doesn't necessarily lift all boats, the rout in India's giant Adani conglomerate deepened.

Adani market losses swelled to more than $100 billion on Thursday - sparking worries about country-wide investment contagion a day after its flagship company abandoned a $2.5 billion stock offering. It's battling a short seller attack on the firm's bonds amid questions over the group's leverage and growing doubts about margin financing.

Key developments that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Thursday:

* European Central Bank and Bank of England policy decisions

* US Q4 Unit Labor Costs, productivity; weekly jobless claims

* U.S. corp earnings: Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Ford, Starbucks Clorox, Qualcomm, Gilead, Conocophillips, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Honeywell, Estee Lauder, CMS, Intercontinental Exchange, Merck, Hershey, WW Grainger, Illinois Tool Works, etc

Fed rate cuts: not so fast? https://tmsnrt.rs/3HMayio

Apple's revenue is set to fall for the first time in nearly 4 years Apple's revenue is set to fall for the first time in nearly 4 yearshttps://tmsnrt.rs/3WV91uD

Amazon hired generously; Apple stayed frugal through pandemichttps://tmsnrt.rs/3kdd5sJ

ECB expected to hike again https://tmsnrt.rs/3Y1vp6r

Adani stocks drop after Hindenburg report, share sale withdrawnhttps://tmsnrt.rs/3RrZMBh

By Mike Dolan, editing by Elaine Hardcastle mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com. Twitter: @reutersMikeD


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