Equities capped by China and Ukraine

Concerns over Chinese growth and political tensions in Ukraine took the fizz out of an attempted rally in riskier assets on Thursday, as world shares steadied after their biggest falls for nearly two weeks.

By Alistair Smout (Reuters)

Published: Fri 14 Mar 2014, 10:19 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:50 AM

Stock markets in Europe edged higher, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 up 0.2 per cent to recoup some of its 1.1 per cent drop in the previous session. The move echoed trading in Asia, where MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan managed to rise 0.5 per cent, clawing back half the previous day’s losses.

Soft Chinese data dented many markets, however, with Japan’s Nikkei slipping 0.1 per cent, erasing gains made after Japanese machinery orders beat expectations, and South Korean shares also erasing most of its gains. China’s industrial output growth came in below forecasts for the combined January/February period, with retail sales also weaker than expected, stoking worries that growth could slow as Beijing pushes for economic reforms.

“The China economy is slowing quite sharply, in our view... (although) the lack of inflation and slowing growth does open the door for policy easing,” Gerard Lane, equity strategist at Shore Capital, said in a note.

The MSCI All-Country World index edged up 0.1 per cent, not far from an eight-day low hit on Wednesday. A major victim of concerns over China, copper dropped 0.9 per cent to $6,448 a tonne, a day after it hit a four-year low at $6376.25. After a tumble in copper of around eight per cent so far this month, investors are worried about a possible unravelling of Chinese loan deals using the metal as collateral. In the currency market, the Swiss franc hit a two-and-a-half year high of 0.8697 francs to the dollar, while the Japanese yen, which is under pressure from the Bank of Japan’s loose monetary policy, also ticked up slightly.

The euro hit a new 2 1/2-year high of $1.3954, a possible sign that the currency is regaining safe-haven status as it recovers from the sovereign debt crisis.

Irish government bond yields hit new record lows before Dublin’s first regular debt auction since its 2010 bailout, seen as a post-crisis watershed for the country.

Investors expected a solid auction result, which some said could be a catalyst for another leg in the Irish debt rally which has taken 10-year yields to just below 3 per cent from a peak of over 15 per cent in 2011.

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