Asia push, Wall Street support lift stocks; oil rises

Asia push, Wall Street support lift stocks; oil rises
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Asia push, Wall Street support lift stocks; oil rises


World stocks rose on Wednesday, hitting a four-month high on hopes for progress in trade talks between the United States and China, and a supportive backdrop from major central banks also helped push risk assets higher.

Crude prices rose to 2019 highs helped by output cuts from top producers as well as U.S. sanctions on OPEC members Iran and Venezuela.

Stocks started with a rally in Asia that pushed the MSCI world equity index to its highest since October after U.S. President Donald Trump said negotiations with China were going well and suggested he was open to extending the deadline to complete them beyond March 1.

Many had feared U.S. tariffs on $200 billion (153 billion pounds) worth of Chinese imports would rise to 25 percent from 10 percent if no deal was reached by then.

European stock indexes also strengthened, with a region-wide index at a four-month high.

On Wall Street, stocks wobbled after Federal Reserve policymakers gave little sense of how long their "patient" stance on U.S. interest rate policy would last in minutes from their latest meeting, while promising "before too long" a plan for their $4 trillion balance sheet.

The tone of the Fed meeting "was decidedly noncommittal, and the minutes recreated this noncommittal message in more detail," said Jefferies analysts led by Ward McCarthy in a note.

"The FOMC is on track to curtail the normalization of the balance sheet without providing any solid reasoning for doing so."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69.54 points, or 0.27 percent, to 25,960.86, the S&P 500 gained 5.98 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,785.74 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.31 points, or 0.06 percent, to 7,491.08.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.67 percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.50 percent.

Emerging market stocks rose 1.24 percent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 1.2 percent higher, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.60 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1 percent to close at its highest since August.

While hopes for a trade deal between the world's two largest economies are seen as the primary driver for world stocks, dovish central bank messages from the United States to Asia and the ECB are also playing a part.

On currency markets, the dollar index fell 0.06 percent, with the euro up 0.06 percent to $1.1347 while sterling was last trading at $1.3059, down 0.02 percent on the day.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.13 percent versus the greenback at 110.79 per dollar after Japan recorded its biggest annual drop in exports in January for more than two years, and on recent dovish Bank of Japan signals.

The offshore yuan rose 0.5 percent against the dollar to a three-week high of 6.7067.

U.S. oil prices rose above $57 per barrel for the first time in three months supported by OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, but soaring U.S. production and expectations of an economic slowdown kept the market wobbly.

U.S. crude rose 1.43 percent to $57.26 per barrel and Brent was last at $67.11, up 0.99 percent.

U.S. Treasury yields were little changed after the Fed minutes showed committee members were undecided on whether to hike rates again this year.


Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.6483 percent, from 2.645 percent late on Tuesday.

The 30-year bond last fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.9952 percent, from 2.988 percent late on Tuesday.

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