Global equities gain on trade deal, Chinese data

NEW YORK: Global equities rose on Friday, with Wall Street stocks ending at fresh records, as solid Chinese economic data brightened the global outlook following the landmark US-China trade deal earlier in the week.

European markets were all higher following signs the Chinese economy is stabilising.

“China released some broadly positive economic reports, which has boosted sentiment around the globe,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

Apart from a blip last week caused by the US killing of Iran’s top general, markets have had a strong start to the new decade, building on the rally of late 2019.

The gains have been fanned by the “phase one” trade agreement signed this week by the United States and China as well as signs of improvement in various economies, lower interest rates, government stimulus and easing Brexit concerns.

The prospect of a healthy batch of corporate earnings means there are hopes for further advances as well.

Analysts see few economic clouds on the horizon in the short term but worry that high stock valuations could prompt a selloff.

Chinese growth

Beijing contributed to the feel-good atmosphere, releasing data that said the world’s second-biggest economy expanded by 6.1% last year.

While that was the slowest pace in three decades and well below the 2018 level of 6.6%, it was in line with expectations and the government’s target.

The 6% growth for October-December was the same as the previous quarter, and traders were cheered by a better-than-forecast rise in retail sales, industrial output and investment.

The slowdown in Chinese growth has been a major headache for investors for the past few years as the country’s leaders struggle with the US trade war, slowing global demand and a worrying debt mountain.

Later Friday, US data showed December construction of new US housing shot to a 13-year high, added to positive investor sentiment.