Strong stock and bond markets at odds over global growth

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – It looks like something has to give in global markets.

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Stocks and bonds around the world have rallied atypically together since the start of the year, rewarding investors both bullish and bearish on the direction of global growth.

The main catalyst for the gains was the Federal Reserve’s surprise decision in early January to pause its tightening policy, after four interest rate increases in 2018 raised fears it was being too aggressive as the economy cooled and inflation remained minimal. Those fears helped send global markets into a tailspin in December.

Yet with the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 near a record level and corporate junk bonds notching new highs, the question stock and bond investors are asking is whether the Fed’s next move will be a rate cut that further propels risk assets or a rate hike that cuts into the stock market’s momentum.

A move by the Fed on interest rates or a communication misstep by the central bank would likely end either the rally in the stock market or in investment-grade bonds by the