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Global stocks seek enlightenment from Trump on trade

Published 11/12/2019, 05:08 AM
© Reuters. Passerbys walk past an electric screen showing Asian markets indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo
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By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - World shares inched higher on Tuesday as investors awaited a speech by President Donald Trump on U.S. trade policy and on news he was likely to delay a decision on European auto tariffs.

Bond markets also seemed increasingly confident a recession will be avoided as EU officials said Trump was expected to announce this week that he was delaying the tariff decision on EU cars and parts for another six months.

The news boosted expectations about Trump's speech later in the day and for some resolution to his administration's long-running trade war with China.

The pan-European STOXX 600 shuffled 0.2% higher, back towards 4-year highs helped by upbeat chipmaker shares. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had climbed 0.5%, following a sharp 1.2% pullback on Monday.

Japan's Nikkei, which dithered either side of flat most of the day, ended 0.8% higher. But Shanghai blue chips eased 0.2% after bank lending growth undershot analysts' estimates, while Australian shares were down, too.

A positive signal on U.S.-China trade would likely satisfy traders even without specific details, said Rob Marshall-Lee investment leader for Emerging Market and Asian Equities at Newton Investment Management.

"I think that there will be some kind of deal that comes of all of this," Marshall-Lee said, adding that whatever emerges both Washington and Beijing will want to claim it as a win domestically.

Trump wrongfooted markets over the weekend when he said there had been incorrect reporting about U.S. willingness to lift tariffs on China.

Investors were also anxious about the situation in Hong Kong after a violent escalation of protests had knocked 3% off the Hang Seng and nearly 2% off Asia-exposed banks HSBC and StanChart in recent days.

Hong Kong's embattled leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday said protesters who are trying to "paralyze" the city were extremely selfish and hoped all universities and schools would urge students not to participate in violence.

Lam was speaking a day after police shot a protester and a man was set on fire in some of the most dramatic scenes to grip the city during the more than five months of civil unrest. The Hang Seng managed to claw back 0.5%.

BORIS GETS BREXIT BOOST

Bond markets were also stirring again.

A partial holiday in the United States had closed the Treasury market on Monday but there was an early milestone on Tuesday with the gap between short-term 3-month and longer-term 10-year yields hitting the widest level of the year so far.

That widening, or steepening of the 'curve' as it is also known, adds to signs that faith in the global economy in gaining again after fears it was heading into recession.

Treasury yields on 10-year notes were fractionally higher at 1.9350% having dropping away from last week's three-month top of 1.97%. European yields were also a touch higher.

Wall Street futures for the S&P 500 inched up 0.1%. Monday's partial holiday had made for a quiet session after the record highs of last week. The Dow ended up 0.04%, while the S&P 500 lost 0.20% and the Nasdaq 0.13%.

In currency markets, the main mover was sterling which gave back ground after surging on Monday after the Brexit Party said it would not contest previously Conservative held seats in the last UK election.

It had jumped to a 6-month high versus the euro and as much as 1% on the dollar but shed around 0.3% to 0.86 per euro and $1.2823 when Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage then said on Tuesday he would not give any more ground.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar steadied at 98.224. The euro hovered around $1.1030 just away from a three-week low of $1.1015, while the dollar faded to 109.26 yen.

Gold looked to be heading for a third day of declines, touching its lowest since early August at $1,447.89 per ounce. It was last trading at $1,453.01.

© Reuters. Passerbys walk past an electric screen showing Asian markets indices outside a brokerage in Tokyo

U.S. crude gained 28 cents to $57.14 a barrel, while Brent crude futures added 35 cents to $62.53.

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