World stocks have remained near record highs, after the United States and China signed the first phase of an agreement to end their 18-month trade war.
MSCI’s broadest index of world stocks was up 0.1 per cent. London, Frankfurt, Paris helped Europe start stronger, after China’s biggest stocks dipped overnight.
The deal signed by US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will roll back only some of tariffs that the two sides have been imposing on each other. The rest remain in place for what looks to be another tricky phase of talks.
“We believe the agreement underpins a positive outlook for risk assets, especially emerging-market stocks,” said Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer, UBS Global Wealth Management.
“But it is also important for investors to understand the limitations of the deal. So we see the deal as representing a partial calming rather than an end to trade tensions.”
Investors were also sizing up emerging-market central bank meetings in Turkey, South Africa and Egypt. Turkey was expected to cut interest rates further.
The European Central Bank was due to publish its December meeting, shortly before a speech by its president, Christine Lagarde.
Also due to speak was Andy Haldane, one of the Bank of England’s last holdouts against a rate cut. Weak UK inflation data had proved treacherous for the pound on Wednesday, so his view will be closely listened to. The pound was still weak at $US1.30 and 85.4 pence to the euro.
Japan’s Nikkei ended 0.07 per cent higher and China’s Shanghai composite index fell 0.5 per cent in its third day of losses . Hong Kong, Australia, India and Vietnam all gained.
Wall Street’s Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 29,000 for the first time.
“While the trade deal has provided a relief, there wasn’t any positive surprises for markets. For shares to rise further, we need more evidences of improvement in the real economy and earnings,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.
US shares are now trading above 18 times expected earnings, near post-2008 financial crisis peak in 2018.
Bond yields dropped as a boost from the trade deal failed to offset low US producer price data, which highlighted persistently low inflationary pressure. The price index rose less than expected in December to cap 2019 with rise of 1.3 per cent, the lowest since 2015.
Ten-year US Treasury yields slipped to one-week low of 1.780 per cent compared with a high of 1.900 per cent last Thursday and last stood at 1.80 per cent.
Most euro zone bond yields were little changed, with German Bund yields just below two-week highs. The UK’s 10-year gilt was yield near a two-and-a-half-month low at 0.65 per cent on the talk of rate cuts..
The Swiss franc held firm. It had reached its highest against the dollar in over a year and its highest against the euro in almost three years after the United States added Switzerland to its watchlist of currency manipulators.
Washington’s decision led traders to think it will become harder for the Swiss National Bank to intervene to weaken the franc in the future. The Swiss currency last stood at 0.9626 franc per dollar, near Wednesday’s high of 0.9631.
The Chinese yuan was just below the five-and-a-half-month high it touched earlier this week after Washington dropped its currency manipulator label for China.
Among the main commodities, oil rose from Wednesday’s six-week low, amid data showing big increases in US refined products and hopes for more Chinese purchases of US oil and gas.
Brent crude futures rose 0.7 per cent to $US64.45 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude gained 0.73 per cent to $US58.23 per barrel. Gold was little changed at $US1,555 an ounce.