Stocks jump on China trade surprise, buoyant banks

April 13, 2016 08:41 AM

Global stocks rose on Wednesday after surprisingly upbeat Chinese trade data offered hope Asia's biggest economy is finally stabilising, boosting risk appetite.

A strong rise in European bank shares, led by renewed optimism surrounding Italy's fund to shore up weak lenders, and a positive reaction to JP Morgan's first quarter earnings also lifted broader indices. 

Europe's FTSEuroFirst index of leading 300 shares posted its biggest gain in a month, rising 2.1% to a two-week high of 1,334 points, and Germany's DAX and France's CAC also rose more than 2%.

U.S. futures pointed to a rise of 0.6% at the open on Wall Street.

"China's trade data beat expectations, which lent further support to risk sentiment today as reflected in the bounce in equity markets," Morgan Stanley strategists said.

China reported exports jumped 11.5% year on year in March -- the first increase since June, well above market forecasts, and a huge improvement on February. Chinese stocks added 1.4%, while Japan's Nikkei rose 2.8% for its biggest daily gain in six weeks. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 1.7%, marking its sixth straight gain and longest winning streak in six months.

Financials led the rally in Europe, with the region's main banking index up more than 5% as investors welcomed assurances from Italy's economy minister that European authorities won't block the country's bank fund.

Investors also gave a thumbs up to JP Morgan's first quarter earnings. Net profit fell to $5.5 billion, but earnings per share and revenue beat expectations, and its shares were up nearly 3% in pre-market trading. 


OIL AT CRITICAL JUNCTURE

Crude oil prices, however, ran into profit-taking after having rallied almost 20% in the last week.

Brent crude was down 1.5% at $44.02 a barrel, after breaching the 200-day moving average around $43.50 on Tuesday -- the first time it has scaled this key technical level in almost two years. WTI crude lost nearly 2% to $41.40, easing back from a four-month high, but also held above the 200-day moving average around $40.95 as attention turns to this weekend's meeting of top oil producers in Doha. 

Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi ruled out an output cut, in comments to Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper published on Wednesday.

A rally in energy stocks helped Wall Street end Tuesday firmer across the board. The S&P 500 energy sector  jumped 2.8% and the Dow industrials posted its best day in about a month.

The lift in energy overnight boosted oil- and commodity-sensitive currencies including the Canadian and Australian dollars to multi-month peaks, but that rally fizzled out as oil headed lower again.

Both currencies were down around 0.4% against the U.S. dollar, which was in turn up two thirds of a percent at 109.20 yen, having climbed from a near 18-month trough around 107.63 set on Monday. 

The euro fell two thirds of a percent against the dollar to $1.1307, helping the dollar index to climb two thirds of a percent to 94.584 and further away from its near eight-month low of 93.627 struck recently.

"Markets are trading 'risk on,' buoyed by better than expected China trade data. In sympathy the dollar is bouncing back versus the euro and yen, and in the near-term we think this correction can extend further," BNP Paribas currency strategists said.

Short-term fair value for the euro is around $1.1243, they said.

U.S. Treasury bond yields rose as much as 2 basis points across the curve, notably at the short end, while the dollar's strength helped drive gold down more than 1% to $1,241 an ounce.

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