Global stock markets recover at end of turbulent week

On Wall Street, the Dow on Wednesday suffered its worst day of the year, before recovering slightly on Thursday, and bouncing back strongly yesterday. — Reuters pic
On Wall Street, the Dow on Wednesday suffered its worst day of the year, before recovering slightly on Thursday, and bouncing back strongly yesterday. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Aug 17 — Global stock markets rose yesterday as investors put economic growth fears and trade jitters to one side, deciding that they had had enough drama and losses for one week.

“We’re ending a turbulent week on a more positive note as exhausted traders the world over head into the weekend in a more buoyant mood,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at the Oanda trading group.

Equities have had a volatile five days, during which US-China trade talk hopes came and went and economic data and bond yields pointed to a possible worldwide downturn.

On Wall Street, the Dow on Wednesday suffered its worst day of the year, before recovering slightly on Thursday, and bouncing back strongly yesterday.

The index gained 1.2 per cent, as investors found relief in hope for progress in the US-China trade war, and housing data offered enough good news not to ruin the party, despite a disappointing report on consumer sentiment, but was still down for the week.

“In the last couple of days, the sellers have been exhausted,” said Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors. “The volatility continues. But I don’t think this is the beginning of a trend.”

Investors also were cheered after Der Spiegel reported that the German government was ready to boost public spending to head off any coming recession — something many economists have been urging.

The spooky yield curve

The week’s most nerve-wracking event was a so-called inversion of the yield curve in the US debt market that Erlam said “has spooked a lot of people.”

The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond slid Wednesday below the yield on the two-year note, while the 30-year yield fell below two per cent for the first time ever.

The so-called “inversion” phenomenon — when short-term interest rates are higher than longer-term ones — is viewed as a reliable harbinger of recession.

Economists have warned for months that trade tensions would drag down sentiment, which was already suffering owing to China’s economic slowdown and fears of Brexit’s impact on Britain and Europe.

The tensions have hit global demand with data this week showing China’s industrial output had plummeted to a 17-year low. Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong were adding to the negative sentiment.

GE rebounds after accusations

In New York, industrial titan General Electric surged close to 10 per cent after CEO Larry Culp bought nearly US$2 million (RM8.3 million) in shares, boosting investor confidence after whistleblower Harry Markopolos accused the company of massive accounting fraud — a charge the company vehemently denied.

In Asia, Cathay Pacific yesterday announced the shock resignation of its chief executive Rupert Hogg, days after the Hong Kong carrier was censured by Beijing because some staff had supported pro-democracy protests in the city.

Paul Loo, Cathay’s chief customer and commercial officer, also resigned.

Until recently Cathay had been celebrating a turnaround in fortunes after Hogg initiated a three-year cost cutting program.

Elsewhere, the opening of London’s benchmark FTSE 100 shares was delayed nearly two hours by a software problem, the London Stock Exchange said.

“London Stock Exchange experienced a technical software issue this morning that affected trading in certain securities, including FTSE 100 and (second-tier) FTSE 250 stocks,” said a statement.

The pound meanwhile continued its recovery, “aided by a series of better-than-expected (UK) economic releases in recent days”, helping to offset Brexit uncertainty, according to David Cheetham, chief market analyst at XTB trading group.

Key figures around 2100 GMT

New York — Dow: UP 1.2 per cent to 25,886.01 (close)

New York — S&P 500: UP 1.44 per cent to 2,888.68 (close)

New York — Nasdaq: UP 1.67 per cent at 7,895.99 (close)

London — FTSE 100: UP 0.7 per cent at 7,117.15 points (close)

Frankfurt — DAX 30: UP 1.3 per cent at 11,562.74 (close)

Paris — CAC 40: UP 1.2 per cent at 5,300.79 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.4 per cent at 3,328.32

Tokyo — Nikkei 225: FLAT at 20,418.81 (close)

Hong Kong — Hang Seng: UP 0.9 per cent at 25,734.22 (close)

Shanghai — Composite: UP 0.3 per cent at 2,823.82 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1089 from US$1.1107 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2149 from US$1.2084

Euro/pound: DOWN at 91.25 pence from 91.84 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.36 yen from 106.10 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 42 cents at US$58.65 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 40 cents at US$54.87 ­— AFP