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Global Market Report - 18 February

Lex Hall  |  18 Feb 2020Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Australia

Australian shares are set for a flat opening as investors wait to take leads from local profit results and news.

The SPI200 futures contract was down 4.0 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 7062 at 8am Sydney time on Tuesday.

US markets were closed for a public holiday on Monday so the Australian market will be looking for direction from the raft of local profit results to come on Tuesday.

Medical gloves maker Ansell has posted a jump in its first-half profit. Other companies reporting on Tuesday include Kogan, BHP Billiton and Coles.

The RBA's latest board minutes will be also released but few surprises are anticipated given they have offered views and commentary recently, IG markets analyst Kyle Rodda says.

"In general, market participants will be looking for greater colour on the optimistic outlook the central bank put-forward at its meeting a fortnight ago," Mr Rodda said in a research note on Tuesday.

"As it presently stands, markets are giving little more than a eight per cent chance of a rate cut next month, with a full cut baked in by September."

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The Australian dollar was buying 67.17 US cents at 8am, down from 67.29 US cents as the market closed on Monday.

Asia

China stocks ended higher on Monday, reversing all of their early plunge triggered by the coronavirus outbreak, as policymakers ramped up support for the economy and companies that have been hit by a slump in sales and activity.

At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up 2.3 per cent at 2983.62, marking its largest daily percentage gain since last June. The blue-chip CSI300 index also rose 2.3 per cent, its best daily performance in close to two weeks.

Hong Kong stocks rose to the highest level in almost four weeks on Monday as Beijing stepped up policy stimulus to cushion the economic impact from the coronavirus outbreak.

The Hang Seng index closed up 0.5 per cent at 27,959.60, after touching its highest level since 22 January.

Japanese stocks slid to a 1½-week low on Monday, hurt by a worse-than-expected economic contraction in the December quarter, while worries about the business impact of the coronavirus epidemic continued to weigh on the market.

The Nikkei average declined 0.7 per cent to 23,523.24 points, its lowest closing since Feb. 5, while the broader Topix ended down 0.9 per cent at 1,687.77, also a 1½-week low.

Europe

European shares hit a record high close on Monday as a rally in Italian banks and fresh attempts by China to limit the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak lifted investor spirits.

Despite a  US holiday dulling market activity, the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.3 per cent, with trade-sensitive German stocks hitting all-time highs as Beijing stepped up stimulus measures.

Adding to the upbeat mood, Italy’s fifth-biggest bank UBI Banca jumped 5.5 per cent after saying it aimed to nearly double net profit in the next three years, sending a broader index of Italian banks up 1.8 per cent.

Even as China reported more coronavirus cases over the weekend, prompting economists to cut growth forecasts, investors took heart from the central bank’s move to cut interest rates.

Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers will also discuss a document that calls for a more growth-friendly fiscal policy as recession fears grip Germany and the coronavirus outbreak threatens global growth.

Automobile stocks, were the best performing European sector, led by French car parts group Faurecia after reporting a rise in annual profits and sales.

In merger news, France’s Alstom rose 3.5 per cent after the maker of TGV bullet trains said it was in talks to buy the train business of Canada’s Bombardier in a potential $7 billion deal.

Meanwhile, Finland’s Kone slid 4.6 per cent as it dropped out of the auction for the 16-billion-euro elevator unit of Thyssenkrupp after the German conglomerate shortlisted two private equity consortia for the sale.

German herbicide providers Bayer and BASF SE fell 1.9 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively, after a  US peach grower was awarded $265 million in a lawsuit against the two.

North America

Markets in the US were closed for Presidents Day.

Elsewhere, Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos will commit $10 billion to fund scientists, activists, nonprofits and other groups fighting to protect the environment and counter the effects of climate change, he said on Monday.

Bezos, who is the world’s richest man, is among a growing list of billionaires to dedicate substantial funds towards combating the impact of global warming.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” Bezos said in an Instagram post. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.”

The Bezos Earth Fund will begin issuing grants this summer as part of the initiative.

“It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals,” Bezos said.

is senior editor for Morningstar Australia

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