Global stocks enjoy relief rally ahead of ECB, but investors wary

Friday, 4 September 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

BUP_DFT_DFT-15-5A pedestrian looks at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, 27 August



LONDON (Reuters): World stocks rose on Thursday, lifted by the strong rally on Wall Street the previous day, but investors were cautious ahead of a potentially critical 24 hours that will include a European Central Bank policy meeting and the latest US jobs data.

Friday’s US employment data could be a major factor in determining whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates later this month.

Investors are broadly betting that global monetary policy will be kept looser for longer as central banks try to mitigate the recent market turmoil stemming from the market volatility and growing economic worries in China.

“European equity indices, higher and slightly more stable this morning, are clearly hoping that ECB president Mario Draghi will strike a dovish tone,” said Brenda Kelly, head analyst at London Capital Group.

In early trading on Thursday the FTSEuroFirst leading index of 300 shares was up 1.5% at 1,417 points. Germany’s DAX was up 1.8% at 10,231 points, France’s CAC 40 was up 1.6% and Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.5%.

British low-cost airline easyJet was the top gainer across Europe, jumping 6.7% after raising its full-year profit outlook.

Japan’s Nikkei rose for the first time in four days, gaining 0.7%, but weakness in Australia and falls in Asian currencies drove the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan down 0.2%.

China’s stock markets, the root of much of the global volatility in recent weeks, were closed on Thursday. US futures pointed to a rise of around 0.3% on Wall Street, adding to Wednesday’s near 2% rise. Despite that rebound, however, shares have only recovered less than half of the losses over the past two weeks. While global share prices may be getting some respite, any relief rallies may be brief. With uncertainty over policy in the United States and China, investors expect trade to remain extremely choppy.

The CBOE Volatility index is still at 26, about twice as high as its usual levels around 12 to 16, even as it has eased from a high over 50% hit last week.

Draghi is expected to lower the ECB’s growth and inflation outlook because of falling oil prices and China’s economic slowdown, and may pledge to beef up the bank’s bond- buying program if prospects weaken further.

Major bond and currency markets were largely steady ahead of the ECB decision and Draghi’s press conference.

The euro was unchanged at $1.1230, and the dollar was steady against the yen at 120.40 yen.

The 10-year German Bund yield was steady at 0.79%, while the comparable 10-year US yield was one basis point lower at 2.18%.

But emerging markets were under more pressure. The Brazilian real tumbled to its weakest level since 2002 on Wednesday as expectations of a growing fiscal deficit fed fears that Brazil would lose its investment-grade credit rating.

The International Monetary Fund entered the global growth and inflation debate late on Wednesday, warning of the growing downside risks to the world economy and urging central banks to keep policy accommodative and supportive.

As Friday’s US August employment report and Fed rate decision later in the month loom, the question for investors is whether the Chinese-inspired risk sell-off in recent weeks is a big enough shock to justify a delay in the Fed raising rates.

“The IMF clearly doesn’t think raising rates against the modest global growth backdrop is a good idea,” said Societe General analysts in a note on Thursday.

On Wednesday, USpayroll processor ADP reported that private payrolls increased 190,000 last month. While that was below economists’ expectations for a gain of 201,000 jobs, it was a step up from the 177,000 positions created in July.

Oil prices remained volatile after their 25% surge late last month from 6 1/2-year lows.

Brent crude last stood at $50.34 per barrel, slipping further from one-month high of $54.32 hit on Monday, though it kept some distance from a 6 1/2-year low of $42.23 hit just one week before that.