World stocks climb new peaks on trade deal, oil slips on demand worries

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US President Donald Trump shake hands after signing ‘phase one’ of the US-China trade agreement in Washington January 15, 2020. ― Reuters pic
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US President Donald Trump shake hands after signing ‘phase one’ of the US-China trade agreement in Washington January 15, 2020. ― Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Jan 16 ― Key world equity indexes climbed to new records yesterday on hopes a US-China trade deal will reduce harmful tensions, but oil prices slid on doubts the pact will spur world growth and boost crude demand.

US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed a Phase 1 deal that will roll back some tariffs and see China boost purchases of US goods and services, defusing a prolonged conflict between the world's two largest economies.

Liu said in remarks at the White House that the United States and China need to step up cooperation, and that the deal benefits both countries and the world. The deal capped an 18-month dispute that had roiled markets.

The centrepiece of the deal is a pledge by China to purchase at least an additional US$200 billion (RM813 billion) worth of US farm products and other goods and services over two years, over a baseline of US$186 billion in purchases in 2017.

MSCI's all-world stock index and the three major indexes on Wall Street set record intraday highs. The MSCI benchmark, along with the Dow and S&P 500, also posted record closing highs, while the Dow closed above the 29,000 mark for the first time.

The deal is unlikely to significantly change the growth outlook, but it should allow companies to make the capital investments they have not, which is positive, said Marvin Loh, senior global macro strategist at State Street Global Markets.

“What's most important to investors is a potential de-escalation and signs that de-escalation will continue this year, which is the outlook period for a lot of investors,” he said.

“If we can somehow take this out as one of the bigger risks that we had all last year, it does give some confidence to the market. Not necessarily from an economic but from a risk parameter perspective,” Loh said.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.07 per cent. Earlier in Europe, the pan-regional STOXX 600 index closed up 0.1 per cent while MSCI's broadest measure of Asia-Pacific markets outside Japan closed down 0.35 per cent. Japan's Nikkei lost 0.45 per cent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 90.55 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 29,030.22. The S&P 500 gained 6.14 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 3,289.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.37 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 9,258.70.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.53 per cent.

Oil prices slipped on concerns the trade agreement may not provide much of a demand boost because the United States intends to keep tariffs on Chinese goods until a Phase 2 deal is reached.

Prices were also under pressure from a report by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Opec expects lower demand for its oil in 2020 even as global demand rises, as rival producers grab market share and the United States looks set for another output record.

Brent crude fell 49 cents to settle at US$64.00 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled down 42 cents at US$57.81 a barrel.

The dollar pared losses but remained lower against the euro and the yen after the signing of a trade deal that may prove a mild negative for the greenback as it removes uncertainty.

The dollar index, tracking the unit against six major peers, fell 0.14 per cent, with the euro up 0.18 per cent to US$1.1147.

US Treasury yields declined as investors repositioned around new data showing producer prices barely rose in December.

A rise in the cost of goods was offset by weakness in services, the latest indication of tame inflation pressures that could allow the Federal Reserve to stand pat on interest rates this year.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to push its yield lower to 1.7864 per cent.

In Europe, investors flocked to new fund raisings by Italy and Belgium a day after Spain saw record demand.

The 10-year German bond yield fell 3 basis points to -0.201 per cent, not too far from the more than six-month highs of -0.157 per cent touched at the start of January.

US gold futures settled up 0.6 per cent at US$1,554 an ounce. ― Reuters

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