AFP, Reuters /London
European and US stocks climbed yesterday as investors kept a watch on developments at a G20 summit in Japan, where US President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are due to hold key trade talks.
As heads of the world’s 20 leading economies began their summit in Osaka, Trump said he was hopeful that today’s talks would be “productive”. Global equities have enjoyed a largely positive couple of weeks on hopes for progress in the head-to-head meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies, though the possibility of failure persists.
“Optimism has been limited at best,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, a global leader in online trading.
“The fact that the trade conflict has lasted this long sends a message that both sides are not rushing towards a deal, or are prepared to make significant concessions,” he added.
In Europe, both Paris and Frankfurt closed with solid gains, at 0.8% up at 5,538.97 points and 1.0% up at 12,398.80 points respectively, while London edged up 0.3% at 7,425.63 points.
The EURO STOXX 50 closed 1.0% higher at 3,476.93 points.
Travel and leisure stocks led gains on the main STOXX index, with a 1.6% rise after shares of Madame Tussauds owner Merlin Entertainments jumped 14%. Merlin said it would be acquired by Lego’s founding family and private equity firm Blackstone Group in a deal valuing the company and its debt at nearly £6bn ($7.6bn).
“The market is still hoping that there might be a positive communication after the meet,” said Rabobank strategist Bas Van Geffen.
“What we see with this positive first half of the year is when the Fed started turning around. And if you actually see the Fed follow through this, you might see the momentum more or less intact,” said Geffen.
Also on investors’ radar is a standoff between Switzerland and the European Commission over a stalled partnership treaty, with the Swiss government triggering measures to counter Brussels’ refusal to extend recognition to Swiss stock markets.
Starting on July 1, the Swiss will forbid European Union trading venues from offering or facilitating trading in certain shares of companies with a registered office in Switzerland.
Swiss stock index shrugged off the news to rise 0.4%.
On Wall Street, the Dow was up 0.2% in late morning trading.
The mood in Asia was more downbeat with Shanghai ending down 0.6% and Tokyo and Hong Kong each off 0.3%.
The dollar was down slightly against main rivals, while sterling did not react to official data confirming that Britain’s Brexit-facing economy grew by 0.5% in the first quarter.
Saturday’s Trump-Xi “meeting is hugely important as the trade war represents arguably the greatest threat to the global economy — especially if it is allowed to escalate further”, Craig Erlam, senior analyst at Oanda trading group, told AFP.
There remains some uncertainty about how the meeting will go, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Xi plans to demand the US reverse a ban on doing business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei as a condition for kickstarting talks.
Trade war talks had stalled last month when Trump hiked tariffs on some Chinese goods.
“The Trump-Xi meeting at the G20 is front and centre,” said analyst Neil Wilson at Markets.com.
“I would think that for Trump and Xi to agree to delay the additional tariffs and for detailed talks to resume would be sufficient to leave investors happy that things are moving.”
Elsewhere yesterday, world oil prices wobbled as dealers await next week’s output meeting of Opec and other top crude-producing nations, notably Russia.
Opec is on red alert over escalating US-Iran tensions that have fuelled recent strong oil-price gains — but producers are likely to extend output cuts agreed late last year, according to analysts.
“The outcome of the Opec meeting in Vienna on Monday seems to be a done deal,” noted City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.
“Most of the major players have already indicated that the group plans to extend production cuts put in place in December and there has been no major dissenting voice among the oil producers.”
At the end of a volatile week for bitcoin, the cryptocurrency shot to $11,651, up more than $1,000 from Thursday.
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