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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Best week for markets in two years

Analysts continue to underestimate the pace of global growth, which has led more companies to meet or beat analysts’ earnings expectations

The German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfur. Reuters
The German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfur. Reuters

The dollar rose and stocks around the globe rallied for a sixth straight session on Friday to post their best week in more than two years, but a US indictment over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election cooled gains on Wall Street.

The 37-page indictment of a Russian internet agency filed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller described a conspiracy with the aim of supporting Donald Trump and sowing discord in the US political system.

Wall Street turned south on news of the indictment but soon rebounded as the fundamental story has not changed, said Ben Phillips, chief investment officer of EventShares, referring to a strong corporate earnings outlook and robust economy.

Analysts continue to underestimate the pace of global growth, which has led more companies to meet or beat analysts’ earnings expectations than in any quarter in 20 years, according to calculations earlier this week by Credit Suisse.

Fourth-quarter results for European companies in the STOXX 600 index are expected to increase 14.6 per cent from a year ago, while the blended earnings growth estimate for the S&P 500 is 15 per cent, Reuters data show.

Since a market rout was sparked two weeks ago on fears of rising inflation and its impact on interest rates, a tug of war has ensued between investors seeking safety in bonds or betting a nine-year bull market in stocks is still alive.

Investors also are concerned about how the Federal Reserve will deal with still-low inflation without killing an economy and inflate asset bubbles, said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.

“That’s a very difficult spot. The market recognises that challenge and is wondering how the Fed will address it,” he said.

But investors are getting comfortable with the idea that growth is sufficient enough to withstand the expected rate increases the Fed has projected this year as well as signs of rising inflation, Arone said.

MSCI’s index of stock markets across the globe rose 0.26 per cent to gain 4.3 per cent for the week, the best weekly performance since December 2011.

Stocks were poised for their best week in six years until news of the special counsel indictment pared some gains.

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The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares rose 1.11 per cent to 1,491.71.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .closed up 19.01 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 25,219.38. The S&P 500 gained 1.02 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 2,732.22 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.97 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 7,239.47.

Investors are trying to determine whether the market is in an overdue correction or the beginning of something worse, Mr Arone said.

“It looks like this week they’re comfortable about uncertainty and the risks that are associated with it, and stocks are moving higher based on fundamentals,” he said.

US Treasury prices rose as investors bought back bonds after a sell-off earlier in the week as investor jitters over rising inflation raised the possibility the Federal Reserve may hike interest rates at a faster pace than expected this year.

Borrowing costs across the euro area fell, though the prospect of higher inflation and a move toward tighter monetary policy from major central banks weighed on sentiment across world bond markets.

Short-dated bond yields in Germany, the euro zone’s benchmark bond issuer, have risen by about 7 basis points this week and are set for their biggest weekly rise in eight weeks.

Benchmark 10-year US Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price to push their yield down to 2.8713 per cent.

The dollar rose on the day but remained on track to post its biggest weekly loss in nine months as negative sentiment offset any support the greenback had from higher Treasury yields.

The dollar index .DXY, tracking a basket of major currencies, rose 0.58 percent, with the euro down 0.81 per cent to $1.2404. The Japanese yen weakened 0.18 per cent versus the greenback at 106.33 per dollar.

Oil prices rose, as the rebound in the global equities market and the dollar’s recent weakness supported their recovery from last week’s slide.

US West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery rose 34 cents to settle at $61.68 a barrel. Brent settled up 51 cents at $64.84.

US April gold futures settled up $0.9, or 0.1 per cent, at $1,356.20 per ounce.

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