World markets on alert mode
Spotlight on Fed minutes
STOCK markets rode out the latest rise in tensions around North Korea yesterday, main markets in both Europe and Asia inching higher as attention moved to minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s last meeting.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent, regaining half the losses it saw on Tuesday when North Korea fired a missile into Japanese waters.
The organisation’s global shares index gained 0.1 percent, helped by early gains for most of Europe’s major markets.
A shift towards more hawkish language by several major central banks has dominated the past week and left markets unsure of how much longer emergency stimulus in Europe will continue to support global asset prices.
For now investors seem to be giving policymakers the benefit of the doubt that the global economy can take any tightening of monetary policy, although the latest data yesterday was mixed – it was strong in Europe and weaker in China.
The Fed minutes will be searched by investors for any signs of more concern among the policymakers about a downturn in inflation and activity in the US.
“North Korea has rattled markets, but central bankers are more important,” said Kathleen Brooks, research director at City Index in London.
“While North Korea’s military ambitions are a background threat for markets, we don’t think that this particular geopolitical event is at the stage yet where it will cause a spike in volatility.”
South Korea’s main index rebounded by 0.36 percent and Japan’s Nikkei ended up 0.25 percent.
Shanghai stocks rose more than 1 percent, despite a drop in the Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) to 51.6 points in June, from 52.8 points in May.
IHS Markit’s final composite PMI for the euro zone was 56.3 points in June, down from May, but comfortably beating a flash estimate, chalking up the best performance last quarter in more than six years.
Currency markets were in limbo, the euro trading just over half a cent below last week’s 14-month highs against the dollar.
The dollar and yen were the main victims of the shift in language last week, but many analysts wonder whether the European Central Bank (ECB) will be able to rein in money-printing later this year if the euro keeps gaining.
“I meet a lot of people while I talk to clients who think the ECB simply won’t be able to escape its current policy setting, because a stronger currency is too damaging,” said Société Générale strategist Kit Juckes.
“The thought the ECB will resist pressure… is still leading many… to look for cheaper levels to buy euro.”
The dollar was less than 0.1 percent higher against the basket of currencies used to measure its broader strength and 0.1 percent lower at $1.1353 per euro. – Reuters