Global Market Report - March 8, 2018

Global markets reacted to a surge in Chinese exports ahead of the European Central Bank's interest rate meeting

Morningstar 11/03/2561

Asia

While US markets were mixed on Wednesday as trade war talk rumbled on, Asia-Pacific markets managed to shrug off these concerns on Thursday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng posted the biggest gains in percentage terms, rising over 1.5% or 457 points to 30,654. China’s Shenzhen Composite Index rose over 1% on the day.

The biggest macroeconomic news in the region was a big surge in Chinese exports, which rose by nearly 40% from February 2017, the biggest increase since early 2015. Analysts had forecast a trade deficit for the country in February, but this became a trade surplus of $34 billion in the month. Japan’s central bank will announce its monetary policy decision before European markets open on Friday, although no change is expected to interest rates or quantitative easing.

Europe

Despite a dip in the euro against the dollar, eurozone exchanges were mixed ahead of the European Central Bank meeting.

The FTSE 100 struggled to make decent headway into positive territory despite reversing early losses. One of the biggest names to report, insurer Aviva (AV) released higher profit figures for the full year and said it would return £500 million to investors in this financial year. The 2017 dividend was also raised 18% on the year. Nevertheless, the shares struggled in midmorning trading.

Shares in estate agent group Countrywide (CWD) were off 13% as it revealed a £212 million loss for the full year – in January the shares had slumped as it forecast a loss of £60 million for the year.

North America

US stock markets ended up only marginally lower on Wednesday despite Trump’s determination to press on with steel and aluminium tariffs.

Weekly jobless claims will be in view on Thursday ahead of Friday’s big event, the non-farm payrolls for February. The US economy is expected to have added 205,000 jobs in the month, ahead of January’s figure. Weather disruption is expected to be a factor after an exceptionally cold month in the United States.

Impressive private sector job creation, as revealed by ADP yesterday, could suggest that the monthly jobs numbers are likely to beat expectations. Last month this triggered a sharp global selloff so the day’s announcement will be even more closely watched than usual.

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