Stock markets rise on hopes for easing of US-China trade dispute

Hopes that China and US can resolve their trade row has provided support to markets. (AFP pic)

LONDON: European and Asian stock markets mostly rose on Monday and the dollar firmed, with investors hoping that China and the United States will resolve their trade dispute.

Wall Street ended last week with gains following a report that top officials from the world’s two biggest economies would hold talks to resolve a crisis that has seen them hit each other with tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods, and with more in the pipeline.

The report in the Wall Street Journal said the talks were aimed at easing the trade dispute before US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a summit in November.

“Investors will be hoping that negotiations between China and the US can start to break the trade tariff deadlock or at the very least open the door to a summit between President Trump and President Xi, which might begin to ease the pressure,” noted Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at Interactive Investor.

A possibility that the months-long row which has battered world markets could be brought to an end was enough to spur optimism on trading floors.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, pointed out that Beijing, which is struggling to support the economy while also addressing a debt mountain, may have had a “lightbulb moment” last week with the release of more weak data and a sharp drop in the troubled yuan.

Authorities in China appeared to be moving to support the yuan last week as it headed towards seven to the dollar, its weakest level since January 2017.

Some observers have suggested the central bank has been letting the yuan soften in recent weeks to offset the effects of any US tariffs, a claim China has denied.

Elsewhere Monday, the Turkish lira was hovering above six to the dollar, well off the record levels around seven seen last week but still facing pressure after Ankara and Washington traded fresh sanctions threats as the row over a detained American pastor drags on.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s on Friday downgraded Turkey’s sovereign debt for the second time in four months and warned of a recession in 2019.

“The worry over Turkey’s currency crisis eased slightly last week as the lira rebounded against the US dollar. But this isn’t the end of the problem,” said Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at Rakuten Securities.

Attention this week turns also to the annual central bankers’ symposium at Jackson Hole in Wyoming, which will be followed for clues on US interest rate plans among other issues.