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Euro climbs, yields jump after ECB comments

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Euro climbs, yields jump after ECB comments
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEWYORK (Reuters) – The euro rose to a nearly two-week high while the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hit a 1-1/2-week peak on Wednesday after officials said the European Central Bank could wind down its stimulus program by the end of the year.

Robust growth is making the central bank increasingly confident that inflation is on its way back to target, ECB chief economist Peter Praet said on Wednesday, raising the likelihood it may use a meeting next week to reveal more about the end of its bond-buying program.

The comments boosted the euro <EUR=> 0.5 percent to $1.1775. The dollar index <.DXY> fell 0.29 percent.

Jitters that the ECB would buy fewer bonds triggered a broad sell-off in German Bunds and other European government debt, which spilled over to Treasuries, analysts said.

The yield on Germany’s benchmark 10-year bond <DE10YT=RR> up nearly eight basis points to 0.44 percent, on track for their biggest daily rise in nearly a year.

Benchmark 10-year notes <US10YT=RR> last fell 15/32 in price to yield 2.9736 percent, from 2.919 percent late on Tuesday.

“Bunds were leading the sell-off,” said John Canavan, market strategist at Stone & McCarthy Research Associates in New York. Praet’s comments “pulled forward the ECB move in some people’s mind.”

Higher yields helped to lift S&P 500 financials <.SPSY>, which rose 1.8 percent and were the biggest percentage gainer among S&P 500 sectors.

“We’re seeing risk-on behaviour. Treasuries are selling off and money is flowing into equities … and the market seems to be OK with the geopolitical headwinds out there, whether it’s what’s going on Italy or the potential trade war or us raising rates or the ECB talking about their (stimulus) ending,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Investors said the new Italian government’s big-spending plans, a major worry for markets over the last few weeks, were unlikely to be helped by the ECB tightening its own policy.

Tesla Inc <TSLA.O> gained after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk reassured shareholders that building 5,000 of its mass-market Model 3 cars per week by the end of June was “quite likely.”

The Nasdaq hit another record intraday high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 294.78 points, or 1.19 percent, to 25,094.76, the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 18.73 points, or 0.68 percent, to 2,767.53 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 38.67 points, or 0.51 percent, to 7,676.54.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> lost 0.04 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> gained 0.66 percent.

Oil prices fell on signs Saudi Arabia and other big producers may increase production and on a surprise build in domestic crude stockpiles.

U.S. crude <CLcv1> fell 79 cents to settle at $64.73 a barrel, while Brent <LCOcv1> dipped 2 cents to $75.36.

(Additional reporting by Richard Leong, Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Jessica Resnick-Ault in New York, Alasdair Pal in London and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; editing by Hugh Lawson and James Dalgleish)

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