BANGKOK (AP) — Share prices rose in Europe and Asia on Thursday after China reported its exports surged nearly 45 percent in February from a year earlier.
KEEPING SCORE: Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent to 12,234.80 and the CAC 40 of France edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,194.25. Britain’s FTSE was flat at 7,154.64. S&P 500 futures were flat at 2,722.70 and Dow futures fell 0.1 percent to 24,964.00, pointing to a downbeat start on Wall Street.
THE DAY IN ASIA: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged 0.1 percent higher to 21,368.07 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.5 percent to 30,654.52. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 surged 0.7 percent to 5,942.90 and the Kospi in South Korea gained 1.3 percent to 2,433.08. The Shanghai Composite index climbed 0.5 percent to 3,288.41, while India’s Sensex added 0.5 percent to 33,182.66. Shares also were higher in Southeast Asia.
WALL STREET: Stocks fell in the morning but ended mixed as investors reacted to the departure of Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who was seen as a proponent of free trade. The losses deepened after Trump suggested on Twitter that the U.S. may impose penalties on China as part of intellectual property disputes. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, was known to disagree with the tariff plan, which has also drawn criticism from Republicans in Congress as well as from much of corporate America.
CHINA TRADE: China’s exports surged in February, partly due to distortions related to the timing of lunar new year holidays, while its politically sensitive trade surplus widened amid mounting tension with Washington. Exports rose 44.5 percent to $171.6 billion, accelerating from January’s 11.1 percent growth, customs data showed Thursday. Imports rose 6.3 percent to $137.8 billion, down sharply from the previous month’s 36.9 percent rate. The news is a boost for regional exporters given China’s outsized role in global trade.
ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “Both foreign and domestic demand look healthy, though imports are not as robust as during the same period last year,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. “The bigger picture is that while China’s trade surplus with most of the world has declined during the past year thanks to the stronger Chinese demand for commodities, its surplus with the U.S. has continued to expand.”
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 11 cents to $61.26 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.45, or 2.3 percent, to $61.15 a barrel on Wednesday after the Energy Department reported that U.S. oil production rose last week. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 8 cents to $64.42 per barrel. It fell $1.45, or 2.2 percent, to $64.34 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 105.97 yen from 106.08 yen late Wednesday. The euro edged down to $1.2408 from $1.2411.
– Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, March 8:
1. European Central Bank Policy Meeting
The European Central Bank is all but certain to keep policy unchanged at the conclusion of today’s meeting at 1245GMT (7:45AM ET), but it may tweak its communication stance to offer at least a few clues about its progress toward ending its unprecedented bond purchases later this year.
President Mario Draghi will hold what will be a closely-watched press conference 45 minutes after the rate announcement. How he views signs of undershooting inflation and any hints on when the central bank plans to end its €2.5 trillion stimulus program will be important.
The ECB will also unveil new macroeconomic projections, but sources familiar with the matter said they are unlikely to offer many surprises as growth and inflation are broadly on the same path as before.
Concerned over low inflation, a strong euro, rising political risk and recent market volatility, officials prefer waiting, perhaps as late as the summer, before starting to signal the end of asset buys.
The central bank cut its monthly bond purchases from €60 billion to €30 billion back in October, but extended the program until the end of September 2018, citing muted price pressures.
The euro was 0.2% lower against the dollar, with EUR/USD at 1.2385, after retracing a bounce to a 2-1/2-week peak of 1.2447 on Wednesday.
2. Trump To Make Formal Announcement On Tariffs
Amid growing pressure to exempt U.S. allies, President Donald Trump is expected to sign an order to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports during a ceremony scheduled for 3:30PM ET (2030 GMT).
Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from the tariffs, which could be extended based on progress in talks on amending the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a White House official said on Wednesday night.
That raised hopes that the tariffs may be less onerous than feared, easing nerves over a full-blown global trade war.
The moves came as more than 100 Republican House members sent an urgent letter to the White House pressing for Trump to change course.
The proclamation signing would cap a tumultuous week in the White House, where advisers have been sparring over the direction of U.S. trade policy, with the tariffs handing a victory to the nationalist wing led by adviser Peter Navarro and playing a part in Tuesday’s resignation of Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council.
3. Global Stocks Tick Up With ECB Policy, Trump Tariffs In Focus
Global stocks inched higher, as investors awaited an update on monetary policy from the European Central Bank and more details about potential U.S. tariffs on steel imports.
Asian shares ended broadly higher, with stocks clawing back gains after sliding in the last session.
In Europe, the continent’s major bourses traded mixed in mid-morning trade, with sectors moving in different directions.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index, the region’s broadest measure of share prices, edged up 0.2%, as some disappointing earnings updates weighed.
Meanwhile, on Wall Street, U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open.
In corporate earnings, Thursday is expected to feature results from Kroger (NYSE:KR), American Eagle (NYSE:AEO) and Burlington Stores (NYSE:BURL) ahead of the opening bell, while Verifone (NYSE:PAY), Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR) and Marvell Technology (NASDAQ:MRVL) are due after the close.
The U.S. dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of six global currencies, was a shade higher at 89.70, after pulling away from a two-week trough of 89.36 the previous day.
The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note yield held steady at 2.885%.
4. Oil Prices Steady After Big Fall Amid Soaring U.S. Output
Oil prices steadied, after falling sharply the previous day on the back of record U.S. crude production and rising inventories.
U.S. oil production, driven by shale extraction, rose to an all-time high of 10.37 million barrels per day last week, according to government data, keeping it above Saudi Arabia’s output levels and within reach of Russia, the world’s biggest crude producer.
U.S. WTI crude futures added 5 cents to $61.20 per barrel, after a more than 2% fall the previous day.
London-traded Brent crude futures were at $64.31 per barrel, down 2 cents. Brent also fell by more than 2% the previous session.
5. Bitcoin Nurses Losses In Wake Of SEC Warning
Bitcoin prices were lower, nursing losses from the prior session, after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a statement saying that online platforms trading digital assets are considered securities and need to register with the agency.
Wednesday’s statement came after weeks of subpoenas from the SEC in its attempt to establish better control over the many trading platforms and exchanges.
The world’s biggest virtual currency by market cap was down around 4.5% to $10,007 (BTC/USD). It tanked more than 10% to a low of $9,422 on Wednesday.
Other major cryptocurrencies were also lower, with Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, sliding about 1.5% to $767.58.
The third largest cryptocurrency Ripple declined roughly 3% to trade at $0.86900.
News of a potential hack attack on the Binance exchange, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, also weighed.
In a statement on Twitter, Binance.com CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said that the site was still investigating potential irregularities in trading.