190306 london stock exchange
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LONDON: Chinese shares surged to a nine-month high on Wednesday bolstered by hopes of more stimulus measures from Beijing, but the rally failed to fuel broader gains in global markets as investors waited for fresh central bank cues.

Benchmark indexes in China rose between 1-2 per cent after China’s state planner said the government would implement measures to further boost domestic consumption to counter the impact of a slowing economy.

Taking into account Wednesday’s gains, Shanghai Composite Index has now gained a quarter so far this year but is still down more than 13 per cent from January 2018 as fears of a wider slowdown in the economy have dogged sentiment.

“China is outperforming today because of the stimulus plans and that is a localised phenomenon as other global markets are focused on central bank decisions and major economic data,” said Ricardo Evangelista, a senior analyst at ActivTrades in London.

At 1500 GMT, the Bank of Canada may signal a policy turning point after raising interest rates five times since July 2017, while European Central Bank policymakers are expected to take a tentative step on Thursday to shore up growth by signalling fresh stimulus to keep banks lending.

Fresh signs of dovishness from other major central banks as China is moving to boost its economy and the US Federal Reserve is signalling a pause in its rate hike cycle would boost equities and high-yielding debt, at a time when broader economic data has shown signs of flagging.

A Citi Research’s gauge on US economic data surprises is holding near a two-year low while a European index is holding well below September 2018 highs.

Risky assets have staged a remarkable comeback in the first two months of 2019 — an index of global equities is up 16 per cent — as concerns that monetary policy would continue tightening despite a slowing global economy has given way to optimism that major central banks will remain dovish.

But despite signs of caution from the US Federal Reserve in recent weeks and expectations of a dovish European Central Bank at a meeting on Thursday, analysts say the broader underlying momentum of global economic data has struggled.

“One defining characteristic of the recent market rally has been the broad lack of participation from real money funds and the broader economic cycle continues to show a slowing trend,” said Shaniel Ramjee, a multi-asset manager at Pictet Asset Management based in London.

A weekly Bank of America Merill Lynch report for the week ending Feb. 27 showed net outflows from equities at $50.28 billion (Dh185 billion) on a year-to-date basis despite the rally in global equities.

Asian stocks had a more lively session thanks to a rally in Chinese stocks on expectations of more stimulus.

Beijing announced billions of dollars in tax cuts and infrastructure spending on Tuesday to reduce the risk of a sharper economic slowdown.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan nudged up 0.1 per cent. The positive news from China also rubbed off on emerging stocks with an index rising 0.2 per cent.

However, more stimulus plans in China failed to lift the Australian currency, an asset that typically benefits from any positive news from Beijing, as data showed the economy slowed to a near standstill in the fourth quarter.

The Australian economy expanded just 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter, slower than the 0.3 per cent increase economists had forecast in a Reuters poll fuelling a sell-off in the currency.

The Aussie dollar slid 0.8 per cent to $0.7028, its lowest since Jan. 4.

“The key domestic demand components were all weak and our economists suggest the door for rate cuts has opened further,” said Adam Cole, currency strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

In the bond markets, sentiment was a bit more cautious with longer-dated German bond yields edging lower. US crude oil futures were down one per cent at $56.01 per barrel.

Brent crude eased 0.9 per cent to $65.27 per barrel.

— Reuters