Stocks gained on Monday as investors pinned their hopes on expected stimulus from the world’s central banks to support slowing growth, while the pound hit a six-week high on hopes that Britain will not quit the EU without a deal.
MSCI’s All Country World Index, which tracks shares across 47 countries, was up 0.06%, according to Reuters.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will try for a second time on Monday to call a snap parliamentary election, but is set to be thwarted once more by opposition lawmakers who want to ensure he cannot take Britain out of the European Union without a divorce agreement in place.
Sterling hit a six-week high of $1.2385 as investors saw the threat of a “no-deal” Brexit easing.
In a note published late on Friday, strategists at Goldman Sachs raised the probability of a Brexit deal to 55% from 45% and cut the likelihood of a “no deal” to 20% from 25% previously.
“The threat of a no-deal Brexit has somewhat receded but has not gone away completely, which is reflected around current levels,” said Esther Maria Reichelt, a strategist at Commerzbank.
European stock markets pared early gains, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index flat by midday in London. Earlier up on the day, the index eased as the pound’s strength weighed on internationally exposed British stocks.
Germany’s trade-sensitive DAX rose 0.3% after data showed that seasonally adjusted exports rose 0.7% in July. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a drop of 0.5%.
The data was a positive surprise in largely gloomy readouts from major economies since Friday, which heightened expectations of stimulus from central banks.
On Friday, U.S. jobs growth slowed more than expected in August, while data over the weekend from China showed the country’s exports unexpectedly shrank as shipments to the U.S. slowed.
The two countries have been locked in a trade dispute since early 2018, and investors fear escalating tariffs between them – already curtailing growth – might tip the global economy into recession as early as next year.
“If all the currently proposed tariffs are implemented, we foresee that growth in the first half of next year will slow toward the brink of a recession,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.
But the prospect of central bank support kept risk sentiment buoyant. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2% and E-mini futures for the S&P 500 index were up 0.25%.
On Friday, China’s central bank cut reserve requirements for a seventh time since early 2018 to free funds for lending.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. central bank would continue to “act as appropriate” to sustain U.S. economic expansion, while the European Central Bank is expected to cut rates this week.
The euro fell to a five-day low before recovering ground to trade 0.1% higher at $1.1032.
The dollar was 0.05% lower against a basket of currencies. It traded at 106.995 yen, off the one-month peak of 107.235 scaled late last week.
In fixed income, longer-dated euro zone government bond yields ticked higher, with most yields up 3 to 4 basis points in early trade.
Oil rose on expectations that Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, will continue to support output cuts by OPEC and other producers to prop up prices under new Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.
(Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Larry King and John Stonestreet)