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Wednesday 15 August 2018

US stock markets rise slightly ahead of Trump-Kim meeting

Investors spent most of Monday waiting for Tuesday’s meeting between the two leaders, aimed at settling a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.78 points, or less than 0.1%, to 25322.31 (Martin Keene/PA)
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.78 points, or less than 0.1%, to 25322.31 (Martin Keene/PA)

By Ken Sweet, Associated Press

US and global markets rose modestly as investors made preparations for US President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

European investors also focused on Italy’s new government, and its future using the euro.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 5.78 points, or less than 0.1%, to 25322.31.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.97 points, or 0.1%, to 2782.00 and the Nasdaq composite rose 14.41 points, or 0.2%, to 7659.93.

Investors spent most of Monday waiting for Tuesday’s meeting between Mr Trump and Kim, aimed at settling a standoff over the North’s nuclear arsenal.

North Korea has reportedly said it is willing to deal away its entire nuclear arsenal if the United States provides it with reliable security assurances and other benefits.

However, many say Kim’s government is unlikely to give up weapons that help guarantee its survival.

If successful, the meeting would lower geopolitical tensions in an area that involves three of the world’s largest economies: South Korea, Japan and China.

“There’s a lot of potential volatility that could come this week: We have the Trump-Kim summit and the central bank meetings,” said Ryan Larson, head of US equity trading at RBC Capital Markets.

“A lot of the tone for this week will be set out in Trump’s meeting with Kim.”

The Federal Reserve will start a two-day meeting on interest rates on Tuesday, wrapping up on Wednesday.

Investors expect the nation’s central bank to raise interest rates from their current level of 1.75% to 2%, but most attention will be on how many rate hikes Fed officials are considering doing later this year.

Investors showed little concern over the swipes that Mr Trump took at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over the weekend and Monday.

Mr Trump roiled a weekend meeting of the Group of Seven major industrial economies by agreeing to a group statement only to rapidly withdraw from it while complaining about Mr Trudeau’s criticism of his tariff threats.

After leaving Canada, Mr Trump called Mr Trudeau “dishonest” and “weak” on Twitter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she found Mr Trump’s tweet disavowing the G7 statement “a little depressing”.

Italy’s markets jumped after the economy minister said the country’s new populist government is not considering leaving the eurozone or adding to the high public debt load.

The statement was the strongest yet on the topic from an official in the new government.

Markets fell sharply last month on worries that the new administration might consider pulling Italy out of the euro or weakening its role in the currency.

European markets closed broadly higher.

Italy’s main stock index jumped 3.4%, Germany’s Dax rose 0.6% and France’s CAC-40 index rose 0.4%.

In individual company news, utility company PG&E dropped 1.64 dollars, or 4%, to 39.81 dollars after California authorities said a series of wildfires were caused by PG&E’s equipment, raising liability implications for the company.

Boston Scientific jumped 2.32 dollars, or 7.2%, to 34.31 dollars after The Wall Street Journal reported that Stryker offered to purchase the medical device company.

Stryker shares fell 9.31 dollars, or 5.2%, to 169.62 dollars.

In energy, benchmark US crude closed up 36 cents to 66.10 dollars per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, was unchanged at 76.46 dollars per barrel in London.

In the metals markets, gold rose 80 cents to 1,298.90 dollars a troy ounce, silver rose 21 cents to 16.95 dollars an ounce and copper fell four cents to 3.257 dollars a pound.

Press Association

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