Stocks keep the faith, sterling gallops higher
Stocks gained amid trade war headlines on Thursday, while sterling rose to its highest in more than two years against the euro on hopes next week’s UK election will lead to a smooth Brexit.
Belief a trade deal would be struck stemmed from a Bloomberg report on Wednesday that China and the U.S. were close to phase one of a deal and from U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks that talks were going “very well”. Trump has said earlier a deal might have to wait until after U.S. elections in November 2020.
If no agreement is reached soon, the next important date is Dec. 15, when Washington is scheduled to impose more tariffs on Chinese goods.
“People are a bit exhausted of the pump and dump around the trade deal news flow,” said Saxo Bank’s head of FX strategy, John Hardy.
Euro Stoxx 50 futures .STXEc1 and London’s FTSE futures .FFIc1 rose 0.1% in early trade. The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.1%, mainly driven by utilities, healthcare and real estate shares.
Luxury stocks rose after Bloomberg reported that Gucci-owner Kering (PRTP.PA) held “exploratory” talks about a potential deal with Italy’s Moncler (MONC.MI).
The trade-sensitive German blue-chip index .GDAXI was little changed. Futures were suggesting U.S. stock markets would open higher.
While the dollar softened against most major currencies, sterling rallied to a seven-month high against the dollar and a two-and-a-half-year high against the euro, extending recent gains on growing expectations next week’s general election will not result in a hung parliament.
“With only a week to go until the UK election, the Tory party still hold a sizeable lead of around 10 percentage points over Labour,” MUFG analaysts told clients in a note. “It has made market participants increasingly confident to price in a Tory majority and an end to the deadlock in parliament.”
Sterling gained 0.3% against both currencies as high as $ 1.3146 GBP=D3 and 84.31 per euro.
“It is getting quite aggressive here and shows people are pricing in a very smooth Brexit, but that also enhances any shock if there is a hung parliament,” said Saxo Bank’s Hardy.
However, British fund manager M&G Investments (MNG.L) suspended dealing in its flagship UK property fund, blaming Brexit uncertainty and weakness in retailing.
The yen JPY= weakened, ceding some of the previous day’s gains as positive signs about the trade dispute hurt demand for safe-haven currencies.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR fell to 1.7603%, retracing some of the gains made the day before. Most European government yields nudged higher. [GVD/EUR]
Oil markets ran out of steam following a 3% rally overnight. Brent traded at $ 62.99 a barrel and U.S. crude CLc1 slipped 0.2% to $ 58.3 a barrel.
However, prices may find support if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and fellow producers, including Russia, approve deeper cuts in crude output when they meet in Vienna on Thursday and Friday.