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World Markets: Stocks and oil prices rally

NEW YORK: Stock markets and oil prices rallied Friday on hopes China would roll back some of its policies surrounding Covid.

“Asia markets bounced back strongly today on more unsubstantiated reports that the Chinese government is looking at a reopening strategy as it looks to navigate a path out of its current zero-Covid policy,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

“These reports, which still haven’t been confirmed in any official capacity, have prompted a huge relief rally in equity markets, despite concerns that any reopening is unlikely to happen in the immediate future, and the very real risk that it is merely a sucker’s rally,” he added.

The rally continued into Europe, where London, Paris and Frankfurt all rose at least two percent.

Wall Street stocks climbed as well, with major indices all finishing more than one percent higher after a volatile day of trading.

Oil Prices
Oil Prices

The optimism lifted oil prices, with Brent crude jumping 4.1 percent and West Texas Intermediate bouncing five percent as traders eyed rising demand for crude on the news out of China.

UK Pound
UK Pound

The pound also won back some ground against the dollar, rising nearly two percent after tumbling after the Bank of England said the UK economy could face a two-year-long recession that it believes has already begun.

The BoE raised its main interest rate by 0.75 percentage point on Thursday, the most in 33 years in efforts to contain runaway inflation.

This came after the US Federal Reserve hiked its key rate by the same amount – the sixth increase this year – as central banks try to cool decades-high inflation.

The Fed has pointed to a still-strong labor market as a key reason for not easing up on its aggressive tightening.

The addition of 261,000 US jobs last month – far more than economists had forecast – likely will reinforce the determination of policymakers to continue the hawkish stance, even if they slow the pace of increases.

That would normally see equities tumble as higher interest rates are bad for most businesses.

But the figures are “consistent with achieving a soft landing for the economy,” said market analyst Patrick O’Hare at Briefing.com, who also cited a “buy-the-dip” dynamic after US stocks fell four straight sessions earlier in the week.

While Fed Chair Jerome Powell said it is premature to think about pausing rate hikes, Boston Fed President Susan Collins added on Friday she sees a chance to achieve the goal of reining in price increases without putting the brakes on growth entirely.

But Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading platform IG, pointed to one indicator in the report that suggests a drop of 300,000 jobs was the reason why the unemployment rate inched higher.

“This might be a case of cherry-picking par excellence, but markets have taken it as the first sign that the hitherto-unstoppable US market is weakening, thus perhaps bringing forward the chances of that fabled Fed pivot we keep hearing so much about,” said Beauchamp.

Markets have been looking for any data that would help the Fed “pivot” away from its aggressive rate hikes.

– Key figures around 2030 GMT –

Equities also got a boost from the latest US jobs data, which showed that hiring remained resilient and wages continued to rise, though at a slower pace, raising hopes of a soft landing of the economy despite rising interest rates aimed at quelling inflation.

New York – Dow: UP 1.3 percent at 32,403.22 (close)
New York – S&P 500: UP 1.4 percent at 3,770.55 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 1.3 percent at 10,475.25 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 2.0 percent at 7,334.84 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX: UP 2.5 percent at 13,459.85 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 2.8 percent at 6,416.44 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 2.7 percent at 3,688.33 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.7 percent at 27,199.74 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 5.4 percent at 16,161.14 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 2.4 percent at 3,070.80 (close)
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.1376 from $1.1160 Thursday
Euro/dollar: UP at $0.9964 from $0.9751
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 146.62 yen from 148.25 yen
Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.56 from 87.73 pence
Brent North Sea crude: UP 4.1 percent at $98.57 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 5.0 percent at $92.61 per barrel

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Hissan Sheikh

Karachi's S M Law College graduate Hissan Sheikh writes on crime and local politics etc.