Stocks hover near record high as year draws to close

Global Markets



World stocks hovered near record highs and currency markets were little changed on Monday as trading dwindled before the Christmas holiday and investors looked with confidence toward the New Year. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was up 0.09% by 1211 GMT after reaching a record high. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS ended near its highest since June 2018.

The MSCI all-country stock index .MIWD00000PUS remained just below Friday’s record high, trading flat. It has risen nearly 3% this month as U.S.-China trade tensions eased and confidence grew that Britain would avoid a chaotic exit from the European Union. The index is up 23% so far in 2019, set for its best year since 2009.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United States and China would very shortly sign phase one of a trade agreement. It calls for the United States to reduce some tariffs in exchange for China’s buying more American farm products. China said on Monday it would lower tariffs on products ranging from frozen pork and avocado to some types of semiconductors next year.

Indeed things appear to look brighter for 2020 than they did a year ago. There should be much more certainty what a trade deal between the US and China is concerned. Furthermore although Brexit will finally become reality in 2020 … there is hope that this will be accomplished and that Europe’s growth will accelerate, said City of London Markets trader Markus Huber. No doubt some good news is already priced in, but markets are once more being flooded with liquidity/cheap money which should propel them higher, he said.

On Wall Street, S&P 500 ESc1, Dow Jones 1YMc1 and Nasdaq NQc1 futures all touched record highs before the open. On Friday, the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 .SPX extended its record highs to seven straight sessions, its longest streak in more than two years. All three major U.S. indexes – the S&P 500, Nasdaq and Dow – gained. Data on Friday showed U.S. growth rose in the third quarter and the economy was probably maintained its expansion as the year ended. Consumer spending was stronger than previously reported, and there were upgrades to business spending.

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