Wall Street quartet lifts world stock markets
World stocks rode the slipstream of the first joint all-time high for Wall Street’s four main markets since 1999 yesterday, with commodity firms adding extra lift as they eyed an OPEC oil output cut and surge in US building under Donald Trump.
A powerful earthquake hitting the same part of Japan that suffered a nuclear disaster in 2011 nudged up the safe-haven yen and cooled the dollar’s recent 10 percent gain which had lifted it to a 13-1/2 year high in recent days. A sustained rally in oil and metals helped the likes of the Australian and Canadian dollars as US stock index futures also pointed to an extension of Wall Street’s post-US election rally after its 16year milestone on Monday.
“The fact Trump was elected means it is now seen as certain that you will see a rise in inflation and that the Fed is going to hike rates,” said Nataxis head of equities strategy Sylvain Goyon. “Some of his strategies are really pro-growth.” Asia’s top bourses had made solid gains overnight despite the clearest signal yet from US President-elect Trump that he will shake up trade with the region.
Europe also spent the day on the front foot, with London’s FTSE, Frankfurt’s DAX and the CAC 40 in Paris up between 0.6 - 0.8 percent ahead of US trading. The European basic resources index, which has now doubled from its January lows, was the best performing sector as big names Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Antofagasta jumped 4 to 5 percent.
Having surged 4 percent on Monday, oil prices were nudging $50 a barrel again. Russian President Vladimir Putin raised hopes that producers will agree to limit output at an OPEC meeting next week.
Benchmark bonds meanwhile were taking a break from the surge in yields and plunge in prices since Trump’s unexpected victory earlier this month. The difference between German and US bond yields were back near multi-decade extremes after two of European Central Bank’s top policymakers reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to its mass stimulus program ahead of a flagged review next month.
“The return of inflation towards our objective still relies on the continuation of the current, unprecedented level of monetary support, in spite of the gradual closing of the output gap,” ECB President Mario Draghi told a hearing in Strasbourg. The bank is also likely to be wary about the uncertainty if Italy’s government, as opinion polls currently suggest, loses a referendum on constitutional changes days before the ECB meets.
The dollar was beginning to claw higher as New York FX trading resumed. It was back level against the yen at 110.85 and was on top again against the euro and sterling at $1.06 per euro and $1.2427 to the pound. British finance minister Philip Hammond got some rare good news about the country’s finances yesterday as he finalizes his first budget statement, which is still likely to forecast a surge in borrowing as Britain prepares to leave the EU.
Breaking with a pattern of borrowing overshoots earlier in the financial year, official figures showed public borrowing in October was 25 percent less than a year earlier at 4.8 billion pounds ($6.0 billion), its lowest since 2008 and beating all economists’ forecasts.
Outlining plans on Monday for his first day in office next year, Trump pledged to withdraw from the TPP Asia-Pacific free trade accord. Such a move may lead to retaliation by trade partners such as China and could potentially derail markets, Libby Cantrill, head of public policy at bond giant PIMCO, said.
But for now, expectations that his administration will adopt expansionary fiscal policies have pushed developed market stocks higher and even emerging market shares seem to have settled over the last week, having initially been hit hard. Overnight, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.3 percent, pulled up by a 1.3 percent rally in Australian shares. Korean shares and Hong Kong stocks rose 0.9 and 1.3 percent each. Investors in Japanese stocks appeared unfazed by yesterday’s big earthquake near the 2011 Fukushima disaster site in northern Japan, with the benchmark Nikkei average closing up 0.3 percent.
The 7.4 magnitude shock had briefly disrupted cooling functions at a nuclear plant and generated a small tsunami. “Most of the flow into stocks seems to be retail-oriented with institutional investors preferring to sit out the rally unless they get a clearer picture on Trump’s economic team,” said Andrew Sullivan, managing director, sales trading at Haitong International Securities Group in Hong Kong.
The dollar’s mild weakness propped up gold prices with spot gold up 0.2 percent at $1215 per ounce. Gold prices have fallen 10 percent since the US election outcome.
It also helped emerging market currencies trim some losses after a recent battering. The Chinese yuan rebounded from a near 8-1/2 year low hit on Monday and emerging market equities rose more than one percent to 11-day highs. With markets moving higher, volatility indicators receded. The CBOE Volatility Index, a so-called “fear gauge”, fell 3.4 percent.