Global shares turn flat as sentiment wanes

Reuters LONDON | Updated on April 29, 2019 Published on April 29, 2019

The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain. (file photo)   -  REUTERS

US GDP, China industrial profits data help stocks

Global shares were steady on Monday as a weak euro zone sentiment survey and political uncertainty in the wake of Spain's elections proved a drag on earlier gains driven by strong economic data out of China and the United States.

The MSCI All-Country World Index of shares, which tracks stocks in 47 countries, was flat in early afternoon trade in London, giving up earlier gains of as much as 0.06 percent.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a subdued open on Wall Street.

European shares, which had firmed at the open, were hit by uncertainty related to the formation of a government in Spain and weak euro zone economic sentiment data that exacerbated fears over slowing global growth. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2 percent.

Spain's IBEX 35 index underperformed peers, falling as much as 0.8 percent, and Spanish government bond yields dipped after Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez overcame a challenge from right-wing nationalists in elections on Sunday.

Shares in Italian banks got a boost and Italian government bonds rallied after S&P Global affirmed Italy's sovereign credit rating.

Still nagged by uncertainty over the outlook for the global economy, investors were looking to a meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve this week and Chinese factory data for further clues on policy direction in the world's biggest economies.

“For stock traders, it seems that the important catalysts are pointing higher: the U.S. sees strong domestic growth, low inflation keeps the Fed at bay and could potentially trigger a rate cut so it seems that equities have nowhere to go but higher - at least in the short term,” said Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS.

Asian market

Chinese blue-chips rose over 1 percent after losing 5.6 percent last week, leading Shanghai shares to an intraday high in afternoon trade.

In China, fresh data showed industrial profits grew in March after four months of contraction, but analysts said sentiment remained fragile. Economists polled by Reuters expect factory activity in the world's second largest economy to grow at a steady but modest pace in April.

In contrast with weakness in Asian markets last week, Wall Street ended Friday on a high note, propelled by GDP figures.

Australian shares were down 0.4 percent after hitting an 11-year closing high on Friday, while Seoul's KOSPI was up 1.4 percent.

Japan's financial markets are closed for a long national holiday this week, but the Nikkei 225 futures index in Singapore was 0.9 percent higher.

U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annualised rate in the first quarter, although some analysts sounded a cautious note.

“The details (of the GDP release), however, were distinctly less impressive with underlying domestic demand growing only 1.3 percent, the slowest rate since 2015,” said Rupert Thompson, head of research at Kingswood.

“Given this mixed picture, this coming weeks spate of U.S. data releases will be of heightened importance for markets.”

The March reading for core personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the Fed's favoured inflation measure, is due later on Monday. The central bank's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will announce its policy decision on Wednesday, with Chairman Jerome Powell expected to balance the strong domestic growth data against persistent concerns over the global outlook.

Markets will also be looking to global factory activity surveys this week, particularly official and private readings on Chinese manufacturing which will both be released on Tuesday.

Currency and commodity markets

Currency markets were calm. The dollar was 0.2 percent higher against the yen at 111.74, and the euro was up 0.1 percent at $1.1162.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was nearly flat at 98.039.

Oil prices fell, extending a slump from Friday that ended weeks of rallying, after President Donald Trump demanded that producer club OPEC raise output to soften the impact of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Brent crude fell half a percent to $71.81 per barrel.

Spot gold fell 0.4 percent, trading at $1,280.62 per ounce.

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Published on April 29, 2019
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