Business

World stocks on course for best month in four years

LONDON: World shares rose on Friday and were on course for their best month in four years, led by Europe’s best month in over six years, as global central banks kept stimulus policies intact and many hinted at further steps to re-energise their economies.

That has helped soothe concern over higher borrowing costs in the United States as the Federal Reserve prepares to tighten rates, possibly by the end of the year.

Corporate earnings also boosted sentiment, with results from France’s Renault, BNP Paribas and Airbus in particular getting the thumbs up from investors.

In early trade, the pan-European index of leading 300 shares was up 0.2 percent at 1,487 points, putting it on course for a rise of 8.5 percent over the course of October. That would be its best month since July 2009.

France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX .GDAXI were both up 0.4 percent, while Britain’s FTSE 100 .FTSE was flat as investors reacted negatively to earnings from Royal Bank of Scotland and British Airways operator IAG.

The dollar slipped for a second day, notably against the yen after the Bank of Japan left policy unchanged. Government bond yields also slipped back after two days of Fed-fueled increases.

“Continued expectation of easier central bank policy has helped underpin equity markets after a turbulent few months,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London.

“Investors are veering between confidence that the U.S. economy is still performing well enough to withstand a rate rise, to an expectation that if it’s not, the Fed will remain on hold,” he said.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was down 0.1 percent but poised to gain more than 7 percent for October, its best showing since January 2012.

MSCI’s leading global equity index .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.2 percent on Friday, bringing its monthly gain up to 8 percent, its biggest since October 2011.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index ended up 0.8 percent, its highest in more than two months, buoyed by a media report that the government is considering a supplementary budget of over $25 billion.

YIELDS YIELD

The BOJ’s decision to keep monetary policy steady was in line with most expectations, but some investors had speculated the central bank would deliver some additional steps to support Japan’s economy.

The BOJ also trimmed its price and growth forecasts on Friday, and many still expect it to eventually deliver more easing.

“The BOJ will probably wait to see whether the Fed may move in December, before deciding to ease further … (maybe) in January at the earliest, but it will more likely happen in April,” said Hiromachi Shirakawa, chief economist at Credit Suisse Securities Japan.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street, which is poised for its best monthly performance in four years.

U.S. data released overnight showed U.S. gross domestic product in July-September increased at a 1.5 percent annual rate. That was just shy of the consensus forecast for 1.6 percent growth and slowing from a 3.9 percent rise in the second quarter.

But solid consumer spending kept alive the possibility that the Fed could deliver an interest rate increase in December.

Although the U.S. central bank held policy steady on Wednesday, it left the door open to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006 when it meets Dec. 15-16.

In currencies, the dollar fell against the yen after the BOJ policy decision, slipping to an intraday low of 120.29, and was last down about 0.4 percent at 120.65 yen

The euro also regained ground from the dollar, rising 0.3 percent to $1.1005 EUR but down about 1.5 percent for the month, after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi took a surprisingly dovish stance that suggested further monetary easing steps were possible in December.

China’s yuan chalked up its biggest daily rise against the dollar since its one-off revaluation in July 2005, after suspected intervention by the Chinese central bank through state banks. It rose around 0.5 percent, pushing the dollar down to 6.3180 yuan.

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields also slipped back from this week’s highs.

The 10-year yield was down nearly three basis points at 2.14 percent US10YT=RR, having climbed 15 basis points on Wednesday and Thursday. The two-year yield was down a basis point at 0.72 percent US2YT=RR.

Crude oil futures slipped after mixed U.S. economic data exacerbated fears of oversupply and as investors took profits following a rally. They were still on track to end a volatile week with gains.

U.S. crude CLc1 was down 1 percent at $45.61 a barrel, while Brent LCOc1 slipped about 0.5 percent to $48.53.

 

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