European stock markets mostly rose yesterday as strong data from the world’s two top economies sparked fresh hope for the growth outlook.
“Global growth concerns seem to be cooling,” analysts at Charles Schwab said.
US numbers released before Wall Street’s opening bell showed that the trade deficit in February fell to its lowest level in eight months, thanks in part to rising aircraft and auto exports, according to government data released yesterday.
“This better than expected trade situation creates a really good platform for 1Q GDP growth,” James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, said of the US data.
Earlier, Beijing reported that the Chinese economy expanded 6.4% in January-March, the same as the previous quarter but better than forecast by analysts in an AFP poll.
The news follows a number of readings indicating stability in China, with factory activity, exports, new loans and inflation all improving — tempering concerns about a slowdown that could have a major impact on the global economy.
Markets nevertheless remain concerned over a broader Chinese economic slowdown — and Beijing’s ongoing trade war with Washington.
“The longer term trend is very much against China, but these numbers may at least suggest all is not as bad as feared,” noted Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.
“And if a trade deal is struck in the coming months with the US, as many expect, perhaps things could even improve.”
ThinkMarkets analyst Naeem Aslam added that the data handed a boost to the overall outlook.
“The truth is that the handoff from feeble economic numbers to strong economic numbers is here and this is good news,” he said.
“Let’s not forget, improving economic conditions over in China means better economic health of the global economy.”
Eurozone stock markets were firmly in positive territory at the close, while London lagged its peers as the pound strengthened.
Among individual stocks, shares in Italian club Juventus fell more than 17% in late Milan trading after Cristiano Ronaldo’s side were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by Ajax.
London’s FTSE 100 closed flat at 7,471.32 points, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 closed 0.4% up at 12,153.07 points and Paris CAC 40 ended 0.6% up at 5,563.09 points while the EURO STOXX 50 finished 0.4% up at 3,477.73 points.
Wall Street was slightly softer in the late New York morning as signs of a looming EU-US trade spat cooled investor sentiment after the EU unveiled a wide-ranging list of US-made goods, from beeswax to car parts, subject to tariffs in retaliation for subsidies to Boeing.
Meanwhile, the US corporate earnings season rumbled on providing, on balance, support to stock prices.
Elsewhere, oil prices managed to extend gains after a US industry group reported a surprise drop in stockpiles, while OPEC-led output cuts and US sanctions on Iran and Venezuela kept a supply glut in check.
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