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World Stock-Market Hit Six-Month High

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Global markets’ fast start to the year continued on Tuesday as world shares inched to a six-month high, Brent oil neared $70 a barrel for the first time since November and the dollar showed renewed signs of strength.

Some brightening of the global industrial mood – at least in China and the United States – had to compete with another dour U.S. retail sales report, Britain’s broken Brexit plans and turbulence in Turkey, but it seemed to be enough.

European bourses shook off an early wobble to climb for a third day, while the S&P 500 looked set to add another few points to its best start to a year since 1998 as the MSCI world did the same.

Europe was led by a near 1 percent jump in London’s FTSE 100 which was lifted by a 0.6 per cent weaker pound after the UK parliament failed once again on Monday to find any alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit divorce deal.

May was hunkered down in hours of cabinet meetings with her senior ministers on Tuesday to plan her next moves, but it seemed more in hope than expectation and EU officials warned again of a ‘no-deal’ crash out for the UK.

It also meant investors stuck with UK Gilts, and safe-haven German bonds, negative yields notwithstanding, in the bond markets despite a pop back higher in key U.S. yields in recent days.

“It does seem that British MPs want to avoid a no-deal Brexit by all means, but they are not voting for any of the alternatives and time is running out,” DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz said.

“So I think investors have to prepare for the possibility that no-deal Brexit is on its way in 10 days’ time.”

Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ended up 0.2 per cent and at a seven-month high after also rallying more than one per cent in the previous session.

Chinese blue-chips scored a 10-month high, leapfrogging Colombia to the top of the leaderboard of world share markets, while Australian shares gained 0.4 per cent after the Aussie dollar dropped following a meeting of the country’s central bank.

The RBA held interest rates steady and highlighted the strength of employment, showing no immediate inclination to echo the outright dovish tone of some of its global peers.

Nevertheless, it highlighted “downside risks for the global growth environment” and with elections coming soon markets were betting the RBA will ultimately be forced to ease its rates, if only to stop the Aussie dollar from rising.


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