World stock rally rolls on with best start in eight years

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World stock rally rolls on with best start in eight years

LONDON: World stock markets hovered close to all-time highs on Monday as the best start to a year in eight years showed little sign of running out of steam, with the combination of strong global growth and low inflation powering the appetite for risk.

European stocks opened higher, hitting their highest levels since August 2015, while Asian markets inched towards all-time peaks.

Wall Street last week posted its best start to a year in more than a decade; Friday’s U.S. jobs report, while weaker than expected, encouraged hopes that brisk growth and low inflation can be sustained this year.

The world index was flat, just below record highs.  . It has gained 2.5 percent in the first five trading sessions of the year, its best start since 2010, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The U.S. dollar recovered after a weak start to the year, strengthening past the key level of $1.20 against the euro, although with bearish positions against the greenback high, many traders are betting on a stronger single currency.

Positive euro zone economic data – with economic growth in the euro zone is on its best run in a decade – has helped the euro, and investors globally wanting exposure to the economic recovery in the region have piled into European assets.

The synchronised global recovery has prompted central banks across the world to follow the Federal Reserve’s lead and start moving towards tighter monetary policy in recent months, supporting their currencies against the dollar.

“The overall trend is minutely supportive for the U.S. dollar as we are seeing a global recovery led by China and Europe and there is a lot of cash sitting on the sidelines, waiting to buy European assets,” said Peter Chatwell, head of European rates strategy at Mizuho International in London.

Euro zone blue chip stocks were up 0.23 percent, with France’s CAC 40 ahead by 0.3 percent and Germany’s DAX ahead by 0.31 percent.

Wall Street has already enjoyed its best start to a year in more than a decade, with the Dow up 2.3 percent last week and the S&P 500 2.6 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq  led the charge with a rise of 3.4 percent.

Attention in the U.S. will turn to the quarterly earnings season, which kicks off this week with the Street expecting solid growth of around 10 percent.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said that the global economy had entered 2018 “firing on all cylinders”.

“This growth is keeping our quant models bullish and driving earnings revisions to new highs,” they added. “We stay long outside the U.S., with Asia ex-Japan and Nikkei our growth plays, Europe still for yield.”

In commodity markets, many commodities paused after the recent run-up in prices, supported by a broadly weak U.S. dollar and the rise in global growth expectations.

Oil prices held just below the near-three-year highs hit last week. A slight decline in the number of U.S. rigs drilling for new production kept oil prices in check.

Gold prices dipped after the dollar gained, with spot prices down 0.1 percent. The precious metal has posted four consecutive weeks of gains.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets open a news window on Reuters Eikon by pressing F9 and type in ‘Live Markets’ in the search bar.

Copyright Reuters, 2018

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