LONDON – Global stock markets traded in fairly narrow ranges Tuesday as investors slowly turned their focus away from what President-elect Donald Trump will do in office to more fundamental drivers, such as whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was up 0.6 per cent at 6,791 while Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 per cent to 10,687. The CAC-40 in France was 0.2 per cent higher at 4,517. U.S. stocks were poised for a steady opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures down 0.1 per cent.
TRUMP WATCH: The focus in markets in the past few sessions has been on the upcoming Trump presidency, which will begin on Jan. 20. Analysts say his promises of tax cuts and higher infrastructure spending could boost economic growth but also spur inflation. That’s seen a rally in stocks, a sell-off of U.S. bond yields and a concurrent rise in the dollar. His threats of sanctions against China and other trading partners that he accuses of acting unfairly have rattled trade-dependent Asian economies, in particular.
US ECONOMY: On Tuesday, attention was turning onto other factors. How U.S. markets actually open could well hinge on retail sales figures for October. Any shortfall from the anticipated 0.6 per cent monthly rise could jolt confidence over the state of the U.S. economy going into the transition period from one president to another. Whether it will dent speculation of an interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve in December is another matter. Comments from a raft of Fed policymakers, including Vice Chair Stanley Fischer, will be digested in that context.
ANALYST TAKE: “For what feels like the first time in a long time, fundamentals get a look in today after the overriding dominance of political markets drivers,” said Fiona Cincotta, market analyst at City Index.
DOLLAR STEADY: That focus on more fundamental factors appeared to be impacting on currency markets, too. The dollar, which has been one of the main beneficiaries from Trump’s victory last week, was relatively flat. The euro was unchanged at $1.0767 while the dollar rose 0.4 per cent to 108.27 yen.
ASIA’S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1 per cent to 3,206.99 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 0.4 per cent to 5,326.20. Seoul’s Kospi shed 0.3 per cent to 1,967.53 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was steady at 17,668.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent to 22,323.91.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 95 cents to $44.27 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 80 cents to $45.23 in London.