Monday 20 November 2017

Share rally fades, markets watching diplomacy on Syria

US President Barack Obama addresses the nation about the situation in Syria
US President Barack Obama addresses the nation about the situation in Syria

A week of gains for world stocks petered out today and a sell-off in oil and core government debt eased, as talks began on trying to avert a U.S.military strike on Syria against a broadly calm market backdrop.

The safe-haven yen was near a seven-week low against the dollar and stood near multi-year lows against the euro and sterling, while shares in Europe nudged higher ahead of what was expected to be a flat start for Wall Street.  

U.S. President Barack Obama said late on Tuesday that Russia's offer to push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to put chemical weapons under international control could potentially head off the type of limited military action he was considering.

Oil recovered some ground with Brent crude rising  back above $112 a barrel from a 2-1/2-week trough of $110.59.

The steadier performance came after a 4pc drop in the past two sessions, its largest two-day fall since June.

Copper edged slightly higher to $7,196 a tonne, while gold inched back up to $1,365.90 having slid to a three-week low of $1,356.85 an ounce.

"The calmer market mood is largely because the geopolitical risks have diminished," said Vasileios Gkionakis, global head of FX Strategy for UniCredit in London.

"At the same time, the market is still digesting all the data that we have had over the last 10-days or so and with the exception of the downward revision of the U.S. payrolls, in general, that has painted a positive picture."

STERLING STRONG  

There was little in the way of major economic news out of Asia and offerings from the U.S. are thin, too.

The FTSEurofirst 300 pan-European share index shrugged off early lethargy to stand 0.2pc higher ahead of the start of U.S. trading, as a 0.4pc rise on Germany's Dax balanced falls of 0.1pc on London's FTSE and Paris's CAC 40.

Reuters

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