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Europe turns red as bulls run out of charge

EconomyJun 09, 2020 05:10AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo 2/2

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Stock market bulls were forced to a halt on Tuesday and high-flying currencies like the euro and Australian dollar lost altitude, as a weeks-long risk rally ran into some turbulence.

It all seemed so sudden. Asian equities had scored their ninth day of gains after landmark highs by Wall Street on Monday, but Europe's big markets opened with a 0.5% to 1.5% lurch into the red.

The euro fell 0.3% (EUR=) in only its second drop in 11 days, bonds were back in favour, while another barb from China in its spat with Canberra saw the Aussie dollar drop a 1% having just set a 10-month top.

"It fells like the FX market is looking at the equity market and thinking perhaps we should position for a correction," said Societe Generale (OTC:SCGLY) strategist Kit Juckes, referring to the recent surge in global equity markets.

"It is going to depend on what the U.S. market does today as we have the FOMC (U.S. Federal Reserve policy announcement) to-morrow ...`but why wouldn't you buy some yen at this point'."

The optimism for equity markets came last week after U.S. jobs data showed a surprise decline in the unemployment rate. Wall Street indices surged, with the Nasdaq (IXIC) closing at a record level on Monday.

Global markets were mauled in March amid concern over both the short- and longer-term damage to the world economy from the coronavirus pandemic. But most indices are now back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

MSCI (NYSE:MSCI)'s broadest index of Asia shares outside of Japan (MIAPJ0000PUS) advanced for a ninth straight session for its longest winning streak since early 2018. The 49-country world index is up nearly 45% from 4-year lows struck in mid-March.

"The good news is that this shows central banks' effort to stabilise the market have worked," said Tai Hui, chief Asia market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

Fears of renewed trade tensions between the United States and China and the second-round impact from higher unemployment and bankruptcies are hanging over the outlook, however.

In its latest Global Economic Prospects report on Monday, the World Bank said advanced economies are expected to shrink 7.0% in 2020, while emerging-market economies will contract 2.5%, their first slump since aggregate data became available in 1960.

On a per-capita gross domestic product basis, the global contraction will be the deepest since 1945-46, when World War Two spending dried up.

Tuesday's wobble in markets saw the safe-haven Japanese yen head up 0.4% to 107.93, while the U.S. dollar's gains elsewhere saw the greenback index make its best spurt since May 22.

The mood had shifted in commodity markets, too. Oil prices (LCOc1) slipped over 1% in London after Brent had hit its highest in more than three months at $41 a barrel (CLc1). Gold flipped higher as industrial metals copper, nickel and aluminum all fell.

Europe turns red as bulls run out of charge
 

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