Global Markets: Stocks edge higher as trade deadline nears

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NEW YORK/SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE
Global equity markets rose on Wednesday as investors expected U.S. President Donald Trump would delay his promised new tariffs on Chinese goods, while oil prices fell after data showed an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories. Gold rose and the U.S. dollar traded near break-even against a basket of major currencies ahead of central bank meetings in the United States and Europe, a general election in Britain and a December 15 deadline for the new round of U.S. tariffs.
US Treasury yields drifted lower, weighed by uncertainty over the UK election on Thursday, which could determine the fate of Britain’s exit from the European Union. Paramount in investors’ minds was the looming US deadline on tariffs, with no immediate clarity on what the decision will be. The 17-month trade war has roiled capital markets and crimped global growth, noticeably in China.
The market’s waiting for Godot, waiting on the tariffs, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York. The White House’s top economic and trade advisers are expected to meet in coming days with Trump over the decision, a source said. Confidence is growing as Sunday approaches that Trump will do something to keep the trade talks on track, which has increased risk-on sentiment in the market, Ghriskey said.
Investors are tired of the prolonged talks and don’t believe any of the rhetoric coming from the White House, but do believe a trade deal will get done, he said. “There’s a bit more of a positive feel to the possibility of a trade deal,” he said. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.22%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.19%. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 43.44 points, or 0.16%, to 27,838.28, the S&P 500 gained 3.72 points, or 0.12%, to 3,136.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 16.70 points, or 0.19%, to 8,632.88.
U.S. consumer prices rose solidly in November, which together with labor market strength supports the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will not cut interest rates again in the near term after reducing borrowing costs three times this year. The Fed’s statement is due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT). The Labor Department report showed underlying inflation firming last month. The consumer price index rose 0.3% in November. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI rose by 0.2%, matching October’s increase.
The dollar index fell 0.01%, with the euro up 0.02% to $1.1094. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.02% versus the greenback at 108.69 per dollar. The British pound, a high-flier of late, dropped from a seven-month peak after an opinion poll projected a narrower-than-expected victory for the Conservative party in the British election. The election is set to decide how the UK will leave the European Union, if at all.

The European Central Bank will hold its first meeting and news conference with Christine Lagarde as president on Thursday.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price to yield 1.8104%. In the Middle East, Saudi Aramco shares surged 10% above their initial public offering price on their first day of trading. That gave the state-controlled oil company a market value of about $1.88 trillion, making it the world’s most valuable listed company.
Oil prices fell after U.S. crude stocks clocked a surprise rise in the most recent week while gasoline and distillate inventories also rose, data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute shows.

Brent futures slid 89 cents to $63.45 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 68 cents to $58.56 a barrel. Gold rose as the U.S.-China trade deadline approached. Spot gold added 0.6% to $1,472.26 an ounce.

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