World stocks hit new high on Spain relief
LONDON: A strong rally in the technology sector helped drive global stocks to a record high yesterday, while a recovery in Spanish markets helped to lift European shares after an opinion poll smoothed investors’ concerns over Catalan secession. MSCI’s world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, rose 0.2 percent to its highest ever level. The index has surged 17.7 percent so far in 2017, and is on track for its best annual showing since 2013.
Euro zone stocks climbed 0.2 percent, holding near their highest level in 10 years. European stocks have rallied this year as a healthy economy dovetailed with convincing growth in corporate earnings and a reduction in political risk. “There is an avalanche of things that are happening or going to happen, but markets are just shrugging it off. It’s like markets have been vaccinated against bad news thanks to the strength of the global business cycle,” said Marie Owens Thomsen, global head of economic research at Indosuez Wealth Management in Geneva.
Spanish stocks jumped 1.5 percent and government borrowing costs fell after a weekend survey suggested Catalan secessionists may lose their majority in regional elections scheduled for December. Spain’s benchmark 10year bond yield fell 2 basis points to 1.52 percent. Banks Caixabank and Sabadell, which moved their headquarters out of Catalonia due to the crisis, led gains on the IBEX.
The broader market showed signs of relief, with euro zone banks rising 0.7 percent, and Italian stocks which have been sensitive to the Spanish crisis - up 0.4 percent. Technology stocks also drove European trading, riding a wave of gains on the Nasdaq and in Asia after Apple said pre-orders for its new iPhone X were “off the charts”. iPhone component suppliers AMS, Dialog Semiconductor and STMicro led gains.
Europe’s tech sector has quietly boomed, and has outperformed the Nasdaq so far this year. US stock futures pointed to a slight pullback at the open after blistering tech-driven gains on Friday. Dow Jones Industrial and S&P 500 futures were down 0.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was set for a 0.1 percent dip.
Central banks in the spotlight
In a week of policy meetings by three major central banks, gold edged down 0.1 percent on investor caution. The Bank of England is widely expected to raise rates on Thursday, reversing its monetary easing following Britain’s June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, but investors feared that the decision could create more volatility than the well-received stimulus extension by the European Central Bank last week. “This coming week will see whether the BoE has also managed to steer markets in the right direction,” said Societe Generale analysts in a note.
Sterling rose 0.3 percent against the dollar as traders bid the currency higher on the expected rate rise. Other major currencies kept to tight ranges as markets also awaited interest rate decisions by the Bank of Japan and the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The dollar fell 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies as investors focused on the impending appointment of the next Federal Reserve chair, with speculation rife that Fed governor Jerome Powell is the favored candidate. An announcement is expected this week. —Agencies