Global stocks pushed higher yesterday following signals from the White House that US President Donald Trump may tone down his tariff plans.
Meanwhile, the euro got a boost, but only briefly, from the European Central Bank inching towards a stimulus exit.
As expected, the ECB held its key interest rates at record lows, but it signalled greater confidence in the eurozone economy and its own chances of hitting its elusive inflation goal by dropping talk of boosting its mass bond-buying programme.
The euro jumped up immediately after the ECB statement was released, from $1.237 before to $1.243.
It later gave up those gains and sank lower.
Analysts said the ECB dropping a phrase from the statement that it could increase its bond-buying programme if necessary wasn’t that big a change as no one expected the central bank to increase purchases.
“Easing bias may be gone, but ECB balance sheet won’t be reducing in size anytime soon with reinvestments for extended period,” tweeted market analyst Michael Hewson at CMC Markets.
Meanwhile, he noted, the US Federal Reserve is raising rates and reducing its holding of bonds.
In equities trading, a softer tone on threatened tariffs from the White House late on Wednesday helped Asian stock markets rise yesterday, continuing a week of volatility sparked by fears of a global trade war.
Stocks in Europe and the US also moved higher.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 0.6% higher at 7,203.24 points.
Eurozone stocks got a boost from the ECB, with Frankfurt’s DAX 30 adding 0.9% at 12,355.57 points and the Paris CAC 40 climbing 1.3% at 5,254.10 points. The EURO STOXX 50 closed 1.1% up at 3,415.74 points.
Wall Street stocks were also higher in late morning trade, with the Dow up 0.2%.
Equities have swooned since Trump last week unveiled the levies as part of his “America First” agenda, which were met with anger across the world and from leaders in his own Republican Party.
European Union officials have outlined planned retaliatory measures on targeted American exports to be rolled out if the US makes good on its threat, while China has said it would make “an appropriate and necessary response”.
This week has seen sharp swings in stocks from positive to negative as predictions the measures will not be as bad as feared were offset by news Wednesday the president’s pro-trade top economics advisor Gary Cohn had resigned.
But for globalists, yesterday was positive after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said there were “potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada” and other countries based on national security.
And Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross insisted: “We’re not looking for a trade war.”
A final decision on the tariffs is expected soon, with Trump saying yesterday that the trade tariffs will be “very fair”.
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