July 18, 2024

Tech stocks help pull markets higher

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Global stocks markets mostly rose on Tuesday thanks to a rebound in tech shares, although investors remained concerned by China’s lackluster economy and the outlook for US interest rates.

An 8.5-percent jump on Monday in shares in Nvidia — the leader in processors used for developing artificial intelligence applications — set a positive tone for trading across Asia and in Europe on Tuesday.

Nvidia shares jumped another 2.5 percent at the start of trading in New York but then slid lower as investors staked out positions ahead of the company reporting second quarter results on Wednesday.

“Global stock indices got a helping hand from general technology stock optimism as Nvidia’s share price briefly rallied to a new all-time record high, up over 18 percent from last week’s low,” said market analyst Axel Rudolph at online trading platform IG.

Despite Nvidia stock falling back, shares in other big tech companies rose, helping the tech-heavy Nasdaq index to a 0.4 percent gain in late morning trading.

But the blue-chip Dow turned lower after opening higher, and the broader S&P 500 was flat.

European stocks closed the day higher, boosted as well by a drop in bond yields.

The gains followed a mixed showing on Monday, when investors tried to turn the tide of losses that have swept over markets in recent weeks.

Markets globally have struggled this month on the prospect that the US Federal Reserve will hike borrowing costs once more before the end of the year in a bid to bring inflation to heel.

A string of data out of Washington in recent weeks has indicated the world’s top economy remains resilient and the jobs sector tight, even after more than a year of rising interest rates squeezing companies and consumers.

This has prompted concerns that the Fed could lift rates further and possibly push the economy into recession.

A planned speech this week by Fed chief Jerome Powell at a gathering of central bankers and business leaders will be closely watched for some guidance on officials’ thinking and future policy.

“Each incremental hike that they have from here just raises the risk that we have a much sharper slowdown in 2024 and perhaps even a recession,” Lori Heinel, at State Street Global Advisors, told Bloomberg Television.

However, she added that “as long as inflation remains contained, we think that they will take a pause here”.

There is also still unease among traders about the Chinese economy, with another small cut in interest rates doing little to allay fears of a painful slowdown.

While authorities have pledged a series of measures to get the post-Covid recovery back on track, there has been little detail and they are facing growing calls to unveil more wide-ranging stimulus.

“There are doubts about the effectiveness of further monetary policy stimulus ability to support sluggish credit demand, with the narrower follow-through from the lending finance rate last week leaving hopes for broader stimulus with fiscal policy,” said National Australia Bank’s Taylor Nugent.

Adding to the problems are fears about the country’s property sector. A number of major developers, including Country Garden and Evergrande, are on the ropes with vast debts and struggling to meet interest obligations.

“Policy easing announcements intended to invigorate market confidence have fallen short of their desired impact,” said SPI Asset Management’s Stephen Innes.

  • Key figures around 1530 GMT –

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 34,377.50 points

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,270.76 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX: UP 0.7 percent at 15,705.62 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 7,240.88 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 4,260.37 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 31,856.71 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 1.0 percent at 17,791.01 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 3,120.33 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0851 from $1.0897 on Monday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2734 from $1.2755

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.21 pence from 85.41 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 145.80 from 146.22 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at $80.66 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $84.26 per barrel

©️ Agence France-Presse

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