Global stock rally loses steam, ends the week mixed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 6:21am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2017, 6:21am

Major global stock markets lost ground on Friday as investors scaled back bets US President Donald Trump’s policies would promote faster economic growth and instead favoured perceived safer assets such as bonds and gold.

Oil futures fell, pressuring energy stocks after data showed US crude inventories rose for a seventh week, signalling oversupply despite OPEC’s efforts to rein in output.

The dollar reversed earlier losses, eking out gains for a third straight week even as the Trump administration’s lack of details on fiscal reforms raised doubts about the chances for improved domestic growth in 2017.

“The market will come to realise that a lot of these pro-growth policies might get pushed to the end of this year or next year and you might have this buyer’s remorse for the market,” said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 46 nations, fell 0.3 per cent, to 445.32. It reached an all-time peak at 447.67 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, however, the Dow Jones Industrial Average extended its winning streak to 11 sessions, the longest since 1987, and the S&P 500 rebounded from earlier losses. The Nasdaq Composite erased an earlier drop, paring its weekly loss.

The Dow ended up 11.44 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 20,821.76; the S&P 500 closed 3.53 points, or 0.15 per cent, higher at 2,367.34 and the Nasdaq finished up 9.80 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 5,845.31.

The three indexes posted record highs this week, buoyed by confidence about company results in the coming quarters even without fiscal stimulus.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index ended 0.8 per cent lower at 1,458.64 for a weekly loss of 0.1 per cent.

“This has started even before the new administration,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. He cautioned investor optimism will diminish if the lack of progress on tax cuts, looser regulation and infrastructure spending persist.

The greenback also clawed into positive territory after being on its back foot most of the day. The dollar index was flat at 101.09, on track for a slim 0.1 per cent weekly gain.

As equities and the dollar lost some of their appeal, bond yields fell, with the German two-year Schatz yield touching minus 0.953 per cent. The benchmark US 10-year Treasury note yield hit 2.310 per cent, its lowest in over five weeks, data showed.

Nervousness about the first round of the French presidential election, with anti-European Union candidate Marine Le Pen in the lead, has stoked safe-haven demand for German and US government debt. Bids for less risky assets, together with traders seeing the likelihood of the Federal Reserve raising benchmark US interest rates in March as being remote, bolstered gold prices to their highest in over three months.

Spot gold rose US$7.72 or 0.62 per cent, to US$1,257.06 an ounce after touching a 3-1/2-month high at US$1,260.10. In the oil market, Brent crude settled down 1.04 per cent at US$55.99 a barrel while US crude settled down 0.84 per cent at US$53.99.