Global stocks at highest in more than a month
The US is reportedly discussing lifting tariffs on Chinese imports, as European stocks rise to their highest since early December
London — Global stocks rose to their highest in more than a month on Friday after a report suggested progress towards resolving the trade dispute between the US and China.
European stocks rose to their highest since early December, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index up nearly 1%. Trade-exposed indices and stocks gained the most, with automotive stocks rising 1.3% and Germany’s exporter-heavy DAX 30 up 0.7%.
The gains followed the lead of stocks in Asia overnight, which took their cue from Wall Street’s performance on Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for January 30.
US stocks rallied on the report but pared some of the gains after the treasury denied Mnuchin had made any such recommendation. The Journal also reported that US trade representative Robert Lighthizer resisted Mnuchin’s idea. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were 0.3% higher on Friday.
“The story was probably not as interesting as the headlines suggested, as the story states that the proposal comes from treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin (a China dove), while the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer (China hawk) opposes the idea,” strategists at Danske Bank wrote in a note to clients. “Nonetheless, we still interpret the story as another sign that a US-China trade deal is moving closer and markets probably do as well.”
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.55%. The index has gained 1.3% this week. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 1%.
Australian stocks rose 0.5%, South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 0.6% and Japan’s Nikkei gained more than 1 percent to a one-month high.
The gains across regions helped lift the MSCI All-Country World Index to its highest in more than a month. The index, which tracks stocks across 47 countries, was set for its fourth straight weekly gain, its longest weekly winning streak in six months.
Chinese vice-premier Liu He will visit the US on January 30 and 31 for the latest round of trade talks aimed at resolving the dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
Indicators released recently showed signs that the Chinese economy is losing momentum. A report due on Monday is expected to show China’s fourth-quarter economic growth slowed to its weakest since the global financial crisis, according to a Reuters poll, as demand falters at home and abroad.
The dollar was supported after US treasury yields rose amid improved risk appetite. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was set for its first weekly rise in five. The euro rose to $1.1398 after dipping overnight. It was on track for a weekly loss of 0.7%.
The 10-year US treasury yield stood at 2.766%, its highest in three weeks. The pound was 0.3% lower at $1.2950, after climbing to a two-month peak of $1.3001 on hopes that Britain can avoid a no-deal Brexit.
British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a vote of confidence this week, removing some political uncertainty for now. The longer-term prospects for Britain and its markets remain far from clear, however.
US crude oil futures extended Thursday’s gains, adding 0.8% to $52.49 a barrel. Brent crude was up 0.6% at $61.56 a barrel and on track to gain roughly 2% on the week.
Elsewhere in commodities, palladium was 1.5% higher at $1,417.00 an ounce after rising to an all-time high of $1,434.50 overnight. Demand has recently outstripped supply for the metal, used in emissions-reducing catalytic converters for cars. Palladium also appeared to get a boost from hopes for further government stimulus in China, the world’s biggest auto market.
Spot gold was down 0.3% at $1,299.06 an ounce, after relinquishing its spot as the most expensive precious metal to palladium early in December.