Global shares largely crept higher, after a mixed session on Wall Street, and with few major news developments to alter investors’ outlook on the coronavirus pandemic.
Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.9%, suggesting the U.S. market could open higher. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.4%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.6%, while Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.4%.
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The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average edged lower Wednesday, while the Nasdaq Composite rose, as investors tried to untangle data and earnings to determine what the economy might look like in the months ahead.
Martin Hennecke, Asia investment director with St. James’s Place Wealth Management, said investors were grappling with a range of questions, from the pace of economic reopening to the long-term effects of central bank support.
“No one can predict exactly how Covid-19 will play out from here, and there are always other risks present as well,” he said, pointing to high government debts as one potential trigger for volatility.
Mr. Hennecke said concerns were resurfacing about trade tensions between the U.S. and China, and whether that could prompt currency devaluations to support exports.
President Trump has sharply criticized China for its handling of the pandemic. He has said he is considering using tariffs and other ways to collect compensation for it from Beijing. However, senior officials signaled this week that the administration is holding off on punishing China economically.
“The threat of additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods shouldn’t be ignored given the likelihood that the ‘phase one’ trade deal soon falls apart,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
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Data Thursday showed China’s exports rebounded in April, beating market expectations by growing 3.5% year-over-year in dollar terms. But analysts, including Mr. Evans-Pritchard, said exports would fall back sharply in May as business activity slowed for China’s global trade partners.
In bond markets, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped to 0.695%, from 0.709% Wednesday. Yields fall as bond prices rise.
Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell 1.4% to $29.31 a barrel.
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