By Marc Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Europe’s share markets hit a more than 4-year peak and bond yields shuffled higher on Thursday, as Beijing signaled a ‘phase 1’ trade deal with the United States was close to being sealed.
Asia had been quiet overnight but things sparked just before Europe opened when China’s commerce ministry said the world’s two economic giants were working on a deal that would roll back trade tariffs in different stages.
Cue optimism. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.4% to its highest since July 2015 led by the export-heavy DAX in Frankfurt despite worse-than-expected German industrial output data.
European government bond yields — which move inverse to the price — rose too. Benchmark Bund yields were heading toward their highest in more than three months while the dollar took back ground from the safe-haven yen in the currency markets.
“Everything is moving together for now on this trade deal news,” said Saxo Bank’s head of FX strategy John Hardy. “The question is, how much was already baked into the cake and can we really see more specifics?” he added.
Among the top gainers across European sub-sectors were automakers and miners, while defensive plays such as telecoms and utilities fell, which all pointed to higher risk appetite.
E-Mini futures for the S&P 500, which has already set a new record high this week, were also a solid 0.5% better off.
Asia in contrast had barely budged. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped a slight 0.2%, just off a six-month high hit earlier in the week.
Japan’s Nikkei dithered either side of flat in very quiet trade, having touched a 13-month top on Wednesday. South Korean stocks stalled after hitting their highest since May, while Shanghai blue chips eked out a 0.2% rise
Reuters reported on Wednesday that a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign the interim trade deal could be delayed until December as discussions continue over terms and venue.
Among various suggestions was to sign a deal after a scheduled NATO meeting in London in early December.
“One could take the view that by not committing to meet the original deadline it gives more time for a somewhat more comprehensive agreement to be thrashed out,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.
The overnight pause in the risk rally helped U.S. bonds recoup a little of their recent losses. Yields on benchmark U.S. 10-year notes fell back to 1.84% from a two-month top of 1.87%.
That kept the dollar in check, it was at 109.00 yen from a weekly high of 109.24 and was a smidgen lower on a basket of currencies at 97.965.
The euro was trying to sustain a bounce at $1.1079, perilously close to chart support at $1.1060.
Spot gold was little changed at $1,490.38 per ounce and well within recent tight trading ranges.
Oil prices clawed higher after taking a hit from a surprisingly large build in U.S. crude inventories.
U.S. crude was 57 cents higher at $56.92 a barrel, while Brent crude made 50 cents to $62.23.
(Additional reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Gareth Jones)