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Global shares snap seven-day hot streak

Global shares snap seven-day hot streak

Business Desk World share markets snapped a seven-day winning streak on Wednesday as the White House took a tough line on trade talks with China, while an impending reading on US inflation was set to refine the odds of an early cut in interest rates there. Europe’s main markets followed Asia by declining early on. London’s FTSE, the DAX in Frankfurt and CAC40 Paris were down 0.2 per cent to 0.4 per cent as traders trimmed some of June’s 4 per cent gains. Benchmark government bond yields fell as caution grew. FX dealers kept the dollar near an 11-week low before the US data, having priced in the first US rate cuts since the financial crisis. “I think we are in for a very nervous wait until next week’s FOMC meeting,” Saxo Bank’s head of FX strategy, John Hardy, said. “You have had the markets taking out aggressive positions on where the Fed is going to go and everybody is wondering whether they are ready to deliver as much, in terms of guidance, as has been priced in.” Chinese inflation was in the mix, too. Figures overnight showed it picked up to a 15-month high of 2.7 per cent, mainly because of surging pork prices. Excluding food, inflation rose only 1.6 per cent and suggested plenty of scope for more stimulus. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had slipped 0.6 per cent after two days of gains. Wall Street’s recent rally ended on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.3 per cent. Shanghai blue chips fell 0.7 per cent following a 3 per cent jump the day before. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.7 per cent as demonstrators stormed roads next to government offices to protest against a bill that would allow people to be sent to China for trial. “The impact was short-lived in the past,” noted Alex Wong, director at Ample Finance Group in Hong Kong. “This time people will look at how the US reacts to this kind of news. The US attitude towards Hong Kong and China are also not the same.” President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was holding up a trade deal with China and had no interest in moving ahead unless Beijing agrees to four or five “major points”, which he did not specify. He said interest rates were “way too high” and the Federal Reserve had “no clue”. Fed policymakers will meet on June 18-19. With trade tensions rising, US growth slowing and hiring in May declining, markets have priced in at least two rate cuts by the end of 2019. Futures imply around an 80 per cent chance of an easing as soon as July. That might change depending on what US consumer price data show later in the session. Headline inflation is expected to slow to 1.9 per cent, with the core rate steady at 2.1 per cent. Trump also alarmed currency markets by tweeting that the euro and other currencies were “devalued” against the dollar, putting the United States at a “big disadvantage”. The euro gained to $1.1336, just short of the recent three-month high of $1.1347. The dollar fell against the yen to 108.25 and stalled on a basket of currencies at 96.608. “The President’s tweets on the USD have the potential to have much more lasting impact in the coming election year,” said Alan Ruskin, global head of G10 FX strategy at Deutsche Bank. “Global conditions are nicely set for what has colorfully been described as a ‘currency war’ or a currency race to ‘the bottom’.” The Turkish lira weakened before a central bank that’s expected to leave Turkey’s main interest rate unchanged at 24 per cent. In commodity markets, all the chatter of rate cuts kept gold near 14-month highs at $1,335.51 per ounce. Oil prices dropped over 2 per cent as concern about a global economic slowdown offset expectations that OPEC and its allies will extend their supply curbs. Hedge fund managers have been liquidating bullish oil positions at the fastest rate since late 2018 amid growing economic fears. Brent crude futures fell $1.4 cents to $60.87, while US crude lost $1.2 to $52.10 a barrel. Earlier, stock markets extended their strong run higher on Tuesday, with the prospect of a US interest rate cut helping to offset trade war tensions according to traders. The dollar was mixed against main rivals, while the pound won support from official data showing UK unemployment held at a 45-year low point with a rate of 3.8 percent. “Safe to say, the changing expectations for interest rates is the primary reason for such a strong rebound in the (stock) markets that didn’t look particularly likely at the start of last week,” said Oanda senior market analyst Craig Erlam. “Once again, it’s central banks that are left to fill the economic void, easing investor fears over trade wars and a global slowdown.” Friday’s weak US jobs report has increased expectations that the Federal Reserve will look to cut interest rates, weighing on the dollar but boosting stock markets around the world. Brexit uncertainty has meanwhile reduced expectations of a rate hike from the Bank of England any time soon, while the European Central Bank has vowed support to stimulate a struggling eurozone economy. Rising prospects of a US rate cut come as President Donald Trump has threatened new tariffs against Beijing amid an escalating trade war. Trump said a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping had been “scheduled” during the G20 summit in Japan later this month. But China on Tuesday did not confirm any meeting. A Trump-Xi meeting would mark a turning point in the bruising trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies that has spooked markets worldwide and sparked worries about the global economy. At the same time, Trump’s decision to drop threatened tariffs on Mexico sparked relief across trading floors and led to hope that the row with Beijing could also end with some sort of agreement. Current stock market gains were highly welcome after the US president shocked markets last month by hiking levies on $200 billion of Chinese imports, blaming backsliding over their long-running trade talks. Oil prices recovered, having dropped Monday on uncertainties about an agreement between crude producing nations to cap output. Wall Street stocks opened higher again Tuesday on expectations for dovish central bank policy after another report showing modest US inflation. The Labor Department’s reading of producer prices rose 0.1 percent in May, on par with expectations and corroborating the view that pricing pressure remains limited. About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 26,182.46, up 0.5 percent. The index has risen the last six days. The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent to 2,903.62, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.7 percent to 7,881.22. After a weak May, US stocks have been on the upswing again in June as Federal Reserve officials have signaled they could cut interest rates in the coming months if the US economy slows. Analysts also pointed to relief after President Donald Trump last week withdrew a plan to impose tariffs on Mexican goods following negotiations on illegal immigration. (Inputs taken from agencies)

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