Markets around the world celebrate as US retreats from fiscal cliff

Celebrating the first trading day of the year in Seoul
Celebrating the first trading day of the year in Seoul
Image: AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon
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The gridlock in Washington, DC is over—at least for now—and markets across the world are surging. The reaction is to be expected; economists have said the so-called “fiscal cliff”—a package of austerity measures that would have stifled government spending, increased taxes across the board, and instigated another debate about the federal debt ceiling—was the last obstacle preventing a recovery in the world’s largest economy.

Of course, the deal reached this week merely delays for two months a debate over the debt ceiling and automatic spending cuts, so uncertainty remains. But those looking for positive signs in the United States economy are watching a handful of indicators in the market rally this morning. (Numbers as of 10:55 AM ET.)

S&P 500: +27 points to 1,452; +1.81%

Politicians have made some decisions, allowing companies to plan for future consumer spending. The future of government spending, however, remains murky.

10-year US Treasury yield: +0.08 basis points to 1.84%

As the world’s preeminent “safe asset”—the safe haven to which investors flee in moments of panic—US bonds should decline in the value, or increase their yield, as an indication of relief in the markets.

US dollar index: -0.34%

Like Treasurys, dollars see demand when the outlook isn’t pretty. A decline in the value of the dollar indicates that risk is back on.

Gold: +$17 to $1,693; +1.03%

Gold is traditionally another typical “safe asset,” but the relationship between gold and uncertainty has reversed lately. That’s caused some confusion for traders, but it’s certainly a trend worth following.

Oil futures: +$1 to $93; +1.29%

What’s good for American businesses is good for the global economy and thus good for energy demand.