Wednesday 26 June 2019

Global markets: Stocks climb on trade, rate cut optimism; yuan falters

(stock picture)
(stock picture)
Independent.ie Business Desk

Asian shares, European and US stock futures rose on Monday after the United States shelved plans to impose tariffs on Mexico and as global investors hoped for lower US interest rates on the back of lacklustre jobs data.

Global investors had feared that opening up another trade conflict, while still battling with China, could tip the United States and other economies into recession. The Mexican peso rallied more than 2pc on Monday.

But in China, the yuan slipped to its weakest this year after the country's imports fell the most in nearly three years and as talks to end the Sino-US dispute remained deadlocked.

In the stock market, European futures pointed to a higher open. Pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures rose 0.4pc, London's FTSE futures were up 0.5pc and German DAX futures gained 0.6pc.

Earlier, S&P500 mini futures rose as much as 0.8pc and was last up 0.3pc. The 10-year US Treasuries yield was seen at 2.1223pc, after hitting a 21-month low of 2.053pc on Friday on soft US jobs data.

In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei gained 1pc, while MSCI's index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose as much as 1pc, led by strong gains in Hong Kong and Indonesia.

The improved risk sentiment also helped lift the dollar against the yen 0.4pc to 108.64.

"The deal with Mexico is boosting sentiment while expectations of US rate cuts will be also supporting share prices," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

"Still, with limited progress seen so far in US-China trade talks, the most important issue for markets, stock prices will be able to rise only so much," he added.

Pictet Wealth Management said in a Monday note it has moved to a "tactically underweight" stance on global equities, citing "elevated valuations, mixed economic data and rising trade tensions".

That cautionary note was driven home by Chinese data on Monday morning showing imports in May contracted 8.5pc from a year earlier, a much worse than expected outcome that signalled weak domestic consumption.

Exports, however, unexpectedly rose 1.1pc last month, though many suspect the uptick is linked to front-loading of shipments by firms to avoid higher US tariffs.

In the United States, expectations the Federal Reserve will cut rates kept the dollar on the defensive after a weak jobs report from the US Labor Department.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 75,000 jobs last month, much smaller than the 185,000 additions estimated by economists in a Reuters poll.

Wage growth, closely watched for its impact on inflation, cooled to 3.1pc from a year earlier, the slowest annual increase since September. Just three months earlier, wages had been rising at their fastest rate in a decade.

Fed funds rate futures prices, down on Monday after the Mexico deal, were still pricing in more than two 25-basis point rate cuts by the end of this year, with one almost fully priced in by July.

"I would expect optimism to rule markets until the next Fed's meeting," said Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

The Federal Reserve's next policy meeting is set for next week, on June 18-19.

The euro was down almost 0.3pc against the dollar at $1.1301 near a 2-1/2-month high of $1.1347 touched on Friday.

Gold slipped almost 1pc, having hit a 14-month high of $1,348.1 per ounce on Friday, near a major resistance around $1,350.

The yuan softened following China's weak May imports data, and after the country's central bank chief said last week there was no one specific "numerical number" that was more important than another when asked if there is a red line for Beijing.

"Recent comments from current and former central bank governors suggest a consensus is building among Chinese policymakers that they do not attach much significance to defending the seven per dollar level," said Ei Kaku, currency strategist at Nomura Securities.

The onshore yuan fell as much as 0.35pc to as low as 6.9366 per dollar, its weakest since early December, when Trump last met Chinese President Xi Jinping for trade talks.

The offshore yuan was last seen at 6.9502 per dollar, having hit a seven-month low of 6.9619 on Friday.

"The yuan would weaken further should there be no summit meetings between the two countries at an upcoming G20 meeting in Osaka," Nomura's Kaku said.

Many investors are still clinging to hopes that Trump will meet Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders' meeting late this month to seek a compromise on trade and other economic issues.

The meeting has some parallels with their Buenos Aires summit last December that postponed a tariff hike, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday.

G20 finance leaders on Sunday acknowledged "intensified" trade tensions' risks to global growth, but did not call for a resolution of the US-China dispute.

Oil prices extended gains after Saudi Arabia said on Friday OPEC and non-member Russia were close to agreeing to extend an output production cut beyond June and as Wall Street rallied.

Brent futures rose almost 0.4pc to $63.51 per barrel while US crude futures gained 0.4pc to $54.22.

Reuters

Also in Business