Chinese trade data calms volatile global markets

Business

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stronger-than-expected Chinese export data helped push global stock markets higher on Thursday following a volatile week that had investors scrambling for safety on fears of a worldwide economic pullback.

Investors were encouraged by data showing Chinese exports rose 3.3% in July from a year earlier, beating an expected decline of 2%. Chinese imports fell less than forecast, despite the U.S.-China trade war.

Markets went into a tailspin on Monday after China let its currency weaken beyond 7 yuan per dollar, a surprise move that investors took as retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of more tariffs on Chinese imports.

Investors fear the trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies will cause a global recession. Bond markets have flashed red and a closely watched U.S. recession indicator reached its highest level since March 2007.

“There’s a little bit of calm back in the market at the moment,” said Peter Kinsella, global head of FX strategy at UBP. “But the ball is very much in Trump’s court.”

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1.39% following broad gains in Europe. The index remains down 1.6% for the week and off more than 3% since the start of August.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 299.86 points, or 1.15%, to 26,306.93, the S&P 500 gained 45.12 points, or 1.56%, to 2,929.1 and the Nasdaq Composite added 142.28 points, or 1.81%, to 8,005.10.

Investors have rushed into the safety of bonds this week as fears of a recession jumped. Yields on U.S. 30-year Treasury bonds fell as low as 2.123% overnight, not far from a record low of 2.089% set in 2016. Ten-year yields dropped further below three-month rates, an inversion that has reliably predicted recessions in the past. [US/]

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 21/32 in price to yield 1.7636%, from 1.691% late on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Philippines became the latest country to cut interest rates, following aggressive moves by central banks in New Zealand, India and Thailand that had surprised markets on Wednesday..

“Financial markets are raising risks of recession,” said JPMorgan economist Joseph Lupton. He said the “alarm bell” was loudest in the government bond market.

Few investors think the United States and China will be able to resolve their trade dispute any time soon and many are bracing for another confrontation.

“This most recent escalation in the U.S.-China trade clash has increased the risk of a complete fallout in the negotiations considerably,” said Vasileios Gkionakis, a strategist at Lombard Odier, adding that the probability of a “deal breakdown” had increased to 40% from 25% previously.

Gold has surged this week as investors scrambled to find somewhere safe to park their cash, rising above $1,500 for the first time since 2013.

The dollar was steady, trading at $1.1196 against the euro.

Oil prices regained some ground on expectations that falling prices could lead to production cuts. [O/R]

Brent crude climbed 1.9% to $57.33, which followed steep losses on Wednesday. U.S. crude rallied 2.2% to $52.22 a barrel.

(GRAPHIC – Global assets in 2019: tmsnrt.rs/2jvdmXl)

People sit in front of a board showing market information at a securities brokerage house in Beijing, China August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

(GRAPHIC – Global currencies vs. dollar: tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

(GRAPHIC – Emerging markets in 2019: tmsnrt.rs/2ihRugV)

(GRAPHIC – MSCI All Country Wolrd Index Market Cap: tmsnrt.rs/2EmTD6j)

Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Dan Grebler

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