Picture: 123RF/SOLAR SEVEN
Picture: 123RF/SOLAR SEVEN

London — Global stocks were slightly higher on Friday, clawing back some ground lost in their worst week for months, and safe haven assets rose ahead of a key jobs report as investors hoped this week's dismal data would trigger more US interest rate cuts.

Trading overall was subdued after a bruising week for assets considered riskier in times of economic and political stress following a slew of week economic data that revealed a slowdown in US manufacturing and services.

But a fragile optimism emerged that evidence showing the trade war has dented the world's top economy may spur US President Donald Trump towards a more conciliatory stance over the dispute with China as campaigning for 2020's election ramps up.

It may also prompt the US Federal Reserve to cut interest rates again.

MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, eked out small gains, up slightly at 9.05am GMT and reversing earlier losses in Asia as investors looked to a key US job report that could determine whether the Federal Reserve cuts rates further.

Taking comfort from gains on Wall Street overnight, European bourses were all higher, with the pan European Stoxx 600 and eurozone benchmark up 0.2%.

"[The] market has very quickly reversed to the 'bad news is good news' model and rallied on increased rate cut expectation," said Marija Veitmane, multi-asset senior strategist at State Street Global Markets.

Still the global index was on track for a 1.8% drop on the week, its worst in two months, hurt by a drum roll of weak global data, political uncertainty in the US and Hong Kong, geopolitical tension in the Middle East and Brexit.

Europe, and in particular London's FTSE 100, has lagged the global market, bearing the brunt of woes from a global manufacturing recession to growing trade conflicts and uncertainty over the Britain's exit from the European Union.

On Wednesday, Washington said it would impose 10% tariffs on Europe-made Airbus planes and 25% duties on European products such as French wine, as punishment for illegal EU aircraft subsidies, opening a new front on the global trade spat.

US stock futures were lower, signalling a weaker open later and reversing a 0.80% increase in the S&P 500 on Wall Street overnight on hopes that future Fed rate cuts will support corporate profits.

Talks between Beijing and Washington resume next week, aimed at agreeing a truce over the protracted trade spat between the world's two largest economies, although hopes of a definitive agreement are pretty low.

Global equities could fall as much as 15%-20% if negotiations break down and Trump follows through with his threat of car imports tariffs, UBS global chief investment officer Mark Haefele warned on Friday.

The Swiss bank reckons there's a 50% probability that additional duties will be announced by the year-end, potentially pushing global growth down to 3% next year, the slowest pace since the global financial crisis.

"Without a resolution to the US-China trade dispute, we see limited upside for stocks in the near-term, and given the risks of further escalation we hold a modest tactical underweight on equities," he said.

Safe havens

Signs that the US economy is losing momentum, and nerves ahead of key jobs numbers later in the day, sent investors into safe haven asset such as government bonds and gold.

US nonfarm payrolls data is expected to show the world's top economy added 145,000 new jobs in September, more than an increase of 130,000 in the previous month.

Eurozone government bond yields were lower in early European trading and spot gold was up 0.3%, on course for a 0.75% weekly gain.

US Treasury prices fell slightly overnight but two-year yields ,which track expectations for US monetary policy, remained near the lowest in two years.

The dollar index steadied after hitting a two-and-a-half-year high this week. It was down 0.3% on the week.

Traders see a 85.2% chance the Fed will cut rates by 25 basis points to 1.75%-2% in October, up from 39.6% on Monday, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

The Fed has already cut rates twice in 2019 as policymakers try to limit the damage caused by the bruising China-US trade war.

The dollar edged down to ¥106.81, close to a one-month low of ¥106.48 reached on Thursday. The euro was a shade higher at $1.0974, near a one-week high.

For the week, the dollar was down 1.04% versus the yen and off 0.3% against the common currency.

US crude rose 0.3% to $52.76 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 0.7% to $58.11 per barrel. For the week, crude futures were on course for a steep decline, their worst performance since July 19.

Reuters