CLOSE X
Advertisement

Markets off to a firm start as Trump-Xi meeting looms

Currencies

London - World stock markets and the US dollar started the second quarter on a positive note on Monday, although caution also set in as the first meeting between US President Donald Trump and China's Xi Jinping loomed.

European shares opened broadly higher, tracking Asian shares up after generally upbeat economic data.

Share this story
Specialist Thomas McArdle works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. AP Photo/Richard Drew

German manufacturing growth reached an reached an almost six-year high in March, Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for manufacturing showed on Monday. Manufacturing activity in France and Italy also rose, adding to signs of a pickup in momentum in the global economy.

A private survey on China's manufacturing on Saturday came in below market expectations but still showed a healthy expansion after a similar survey by the government on Friday pointed to strong growth in the sector.

The Bank of Japan's "tankan" survey showed that business sentiment improved, albeit slightly less than expected.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, while Japan's Nikkei gained 0.8 percent after hitting a seven-week low on Friday.

US stock futures also indicated a positive open for Wall Street shares, while focus turned to a meeting on Thursday and Friday between the US and Chinese presidents.

"Despite the solid gains seen so far this year, there is some evidence that the rally in US markets is looking a little tired given President Trump's trials and tribulations in Congress," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

"The reflation trade is likely to face a new test this week when President Trump entertains the Chinese leader Xi-Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago golf course in Florida, which in the words of President Trump himself could be a little 'difficult'."

A failure to push through healthcare reforms last month has added to concerns that Trump may struggle to pass highly-anticipated tax cuts and infrastructure spending bills.

Trump held out the possibility on Sunday of using trade as a lever to secure Chinese cooperation against North Korea and suggested Washington might deal with Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs on its own if need be.

On Friday, the US president sought to push his crusade for fair trade and more manufacturing jobs back to the top of his agenda by ordering a study into the causes of US trade deficits and a clampdown on import duty evasion.

Manipulator?

Any hints that Washington may name some of its trade partners such as China, Japan and Germany as currency manipulators could dent the dollar. The USTreasury will release its next currency report on April 15.

"The Trump administration is not necessarily seeking to reduce the trade deficit through a cheaper dollar. But it has strong intentions to do that and it could use a weaker dollar as a bargaining tool in trade negotiations," said Minori Uchida, chief currency strategist at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

The dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of other major currencies, was up 0.15 percent at 100.49 - holding above four-month lows hit last week.

The euro ticked up 0.2 percent to $1.0679, recovering from two-week lows hit on Friday after data showed inflation in the currency bloc had slowed by more than expected in March.

Government bond yields in the euro zone's lower-rated countries meanwhile rose on Monday, underperforming their peers as a reduction in the European Central Bank's bond purchase programme took effect.

As of the start of April, the ECB's monthly asset purchases fell to 60 billion euros from 80 billion euros.

Governments and other economic actors need to get ready for higher borrowing costs after years of record lows, ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said on Monday.

Elsewhere, Brent crude futures were flat at $53.50 per barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were little changed at $50.58 a barrel. 

Share this story
Advertisement
X