World shares have hit a one-week high before easing a touch as caution before US jobs data outweighed a potential breakthrough in nuclear tensions over the Korean Peninsula.
The MSCI All-Country World index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was 0.1 per cent higher on Friday morning and set for a weekly gain of almost two per cent.
Gains came largely from stocks in Asia, which staged sharp rallies after US President Donald Trump said he was prepared to meet North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, potentially marking a major breakthrough in nuclear tensions between the two countries.
Trump’s aides have been wary of North Korea’s diplomatic overtures because of its history of reneging on international commitments and the failure of efforts on disarmament by previous US administrations.
Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.5 per cent and South Korean stocks rose more than one per cent.
The US dollar also rose against the Japanese yen, which fell to its lowest in more than a week.
The US pressing ahead with tariffs on steel and aluminium imports on Thursday did not seem to rattle investors as much as proposals for them did last week, but caution over the release of US jobs data later in the day was palpable in Europe, where shares opened slightly lower.
Upbeat jobs data last month fanned speculation about faster interest rate rises in the US, causing a rout in the bond market and hammering world equities.
The pan-European STOXX 600 was down 0.1 per cent in early trade, with most sectors in the red except for defensive industries such as healthcare or utilities, which made limited gains.
Germany’s DAX was down half a per cent and France’s CAC 40 was down 0.2 per cent. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1 per cent.
In currencies, the Japanese yen was the biggest mover, falling half of one per cent against the US dollar to its lowest in more than a week following the news on North Korea.
The drop followed the Bank of Japan’s policy meeting, where it kept monetary policy unchanged and stuck to its upbeat view of the economy.
The yen has gained seven per cent against the greenback since the start of 2018 on concerns the outbreak of a trade war would derail a global growth recovery.
The US dollar index was down 0.1 per cent on the day.
The euro was flat.
Rising protectionism was a risk cited overnight by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi following the central bank’s latest policy meeting.
While the ECB dropped its easing bias as some expected, Draghi sounded in no rush to start unwinding stimulus.
Crude oil futures rose. US crude rose 0.4 per cent to $US60.38 a barrel, while Brent crude futures rose 0.6 per cent to $US64.01 a barrel.
Spot gold eased 0.2 per cent to $US1,319.16 per ounce, extending losses into a third session.