(Updates prices, changes comment)
* Formal Brexit process begins
* U.S. crude up after data surprise
* Wall St little changed after posting gains Tuesday
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, March 29 Stocks rose slightly on Wall
Street on Wednesday, just enough to buoy a global equities
index, while crude futures hit a week high after a
smaller-than-expected build in U.S. inventories.
The U.S. dollar rose with support from various Federal
Reserve officials' remarks. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans
said he favors further rate hikes this year, while Boston Fed
President Eric Rosengren said the Fed should raise rates three
more times in 2017.
Weighing on the euro and pound, Prime Minister Theresa May
formally began Britain's divorce from the European Union, a
decision pitching her country into the unknown. On
Tuesday, the Scottish Parliament backed a bid to hold an
independence referendum that could break up the UK, adding
another layer of uncertainty for investors.
Gains in the energy sector, up more than 1 percent,
kept the S&P 500 afloat, while nine of the other ten sectors
moved 0.4 percent or less.
Wall Street rose, with the Dow snapping an eight-day losing
streak. Traders continue to assess the execution risk from a
Trump administration that failed to pass its first major piece
of legislation despite holding majorities in both chambers of
"The policy risk has increased ... but economic data still
remains solid and therefore earnings should be good," said
Walter Todd, chief investment officer of Greenwood Capital in
Greenwood, South Carolina. "Absent some revelation on the policy
front, I think (earnings are) the next catalyst for the market."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 24.59 points,
or 0.12 percent, to 20,676.91, the S&P 500 gained 4.12
points, or 0.17 percent, to 2,362.69 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 25.23 points, or 0.43 percent, to 5,900.37.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.39
percent. MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe
was up slightly.
Emerging market stocks rose 0.20 percent.
GREENBACK GAINS FURTHER
The dollar index gained 0.21 percent, with the euro
down 0.41 percent to $1.0768. On Tuesday, the index posted its
largest daily percentage increase since March 1.
Sterling hit a one-week low of 1.2378 earlier, and
was last trading at $1.2442, down 0.05 percent.
"Sterling will be incredibly sensitive to (Brexit)
negotiations, and will offer a clear gauge of how things are
panning out. We could see it move lower still if negotiations
take a sour turn - $1.10 is feasible," said Neil Wilson, senior
markets analyst at ETX Capital.
Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields fell after the 10-year U.S.
Treasury yield hit a session high at 2.427 percent, higher than
Tuesday's. 10-year notes last rose 8/32 in price to
yield 2.3819 percent.
Oil prices rose after U.S. gasoline stockpiles dropped
sharply last week, while crude inventories grew less than
U.S. crude last rose 2.2 percent to $49.43 a barrel
and Brent traded at $52.36, up 2.0 percent on the day.
Spot gold rose 0.1 percent to $1,253.24 an ounce.
U.S. gold futures fell 0.2 percent to $1,253.00 an
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Dion
Rabouin, David Gaffen and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by