European stocks rebound as trade war fears persist

European stocks rebound as trade war fears persist

London Stock Exchange
The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)

LONDON: Stock markets recovered on Thursday (Jul 12), following on from the previous day's hammering on global trade war worries.

Investors remain on edge about a damaging standoff between the United States and China, with US President Donald Trump threatening tariffs on a further US$200 billion of Chinese goods.

The EU on Thursday slashed its growth forecast for the eurozone for this year, warning that the rising trade tensions with Washington were hitting the economy.

COMMON SENSE?

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said the 19-country single currency bloc would expand by 2.1 per cent in 2018, lower than the 2.3 per cent forecast just two months ago.

"Many agree that tariffs will ultimately be bad for the global economy, and therefore markets, but there still seems to be some hope that common sense will prevail and a full blown trade war will be averted," noted Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda trading group.

The Dow firmed during the New York morning, in turn helping European indices post solid gains at the close.

Asian markets also firmed earlier, with Japan's Nikkei given an extra nudge by a weaker yen, which helps the country's exporters.

Despite the currency's popularity as a haven investment, the yen is at a six-month low against the dollar, which is winning support from a robust US economy.

The Federal Reserve is "more concerned about the (US) economy overheating right now than the prospect of a trade war", Erlam added.

Strong US economic data suggest that Washington is in a much stronger position to fight a trade war with China, which is battling slowing growth and a crippling debt mountain among other things.

"Even though concerns remain over US-China trade frictions, the dollar remains stronger (against the yen) as traders believe there will be a political settlement at some point to avoid an all-out trade war," FX Prime trader Marito Ueda told AFP.

OIL DROPS

Shares in Chinese telecoms equipment manufacturer ZTE cruised 25 per cent higher as the company moved a step closer to having US sanctions lifted by signing an agreement to put US$400 million in escrow to cover any future violations.

The move comes after it agreed to pay a US$1 billion fine and make the escrow placement in return for the lifting of a seven-year ban on US firms selling to it, which had put it on the edge of collapse.

Back in Europe, shares in Norwegian surged after the low-cost airline surprised markets with a profit in the second quarter amid expectations of a sizeable loss.

On oil markets meanwhile, the main contracts went negative again after diving by up to seven per cent on Wednesday when Libya said it had resumed exports from four eastern ports following a disruption caused by clashes in the war-torn country.

Global oil supply, driven by crude giants Saudi Arabia and Russia, may meanwhile come under pressure as a number of key producers face disruptions, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.

Key figures at 1540 GMT:

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.8 per cent at 7,651.33 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.6 per cent at 12,492.97 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.0 per cent at 5,405.90 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 per cent at 3,445.49

New York - Dow: UP 0.7 per cent at 24,870.26

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.2 per cent at 22,187.96 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 per cent at 28,480.83 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.2 per cent at 2,837.66 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1687 from US$1.1700 at 2045 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.3227 from US$1.3205

Dollar/yen: UP at 112.43 yen from 112.01 yen

Oil - Brent Crude: DOWN 6 cents at US$73.34 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 91 cents at US$69.47 per barrel

Source: AFP/de

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