China trade data pushes world stocks to five-year highs

China Trade
Strong Chinese trade data pushed world shares to five-year highs on Wednesday and boosted growth-sensitive currencies and metals, despite doubts about the quality of the figures.

An unexpected rise in German industrial output in March added to the upbeat sentiment lifting European shares and the euro and dampening demand for safe-haven Bunds.

Last Friday’s upbeat U.S. jobs data and robust German factory orders earlier this week have driven up global stock markets, and the positive mood was cemented on Wednesday as China followed suit.

Exports and imports in the world’s number two economy were up 14.7 and 16.8 per cent respectively in April. However, economists believe that manoeuvring by exporters and speculative capital inflows are masking weakness in real global demand.

“I have no strong conviction whether the data reflects reality,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief China economist at Nomura in Hong Kong.

The equity market rally showed no sign of letting up as huge injections of liquidity from leading central banks to boost their economies outweighed the doubts about the Chinese data.

MSCI’s world index, which tracks stocks in 45 countries, rose 0.4 per cent to a five-year high as top European shares followed their Asian counterparts.

European indexes received an extra boost after German industrial production beat even the most optimistic of forecasts to jump by 1.2 per cent in March

The FTSEurofirst 300 , which reached its own five-year peak on Tuesday, was up 0.4 by 1050 GMT (4:20 p.m. IST) as momentum returned and London’s FTSE 100 , Paris’s CAC-40 and Frankfurt’s DAX extended gains to 0.3-0.6 per cent.

“The improving orders situation in the industrial sector and a recovery in construction should give further impetus to the manufacturing industry in the coming months,” Germany’s Economy Ministry said in a statement.

In the currency market, the data pushed the euro higher, leaving it up 0.4 per cent at $1.3133 as the safe-haven dollar softened. The Australian dollar was hovering at an intraday high of $1.0195 after the data from China, its biggest export market.


Copper – one of the commodities tied most closely to global growth prospects – also climbed, rising more than 1 per cent to a three-week high of $7,350 a tonne.

But Brent crude gave back early gains to head back down past $104 a barrel and gold remained under pressure at 1,453 an ounce.

Commodities remain the stand-out laggard of the stimulus-induced rally that has gripped markets since last May. Oil is 7 per cent down versus this time last year, while last month copper hit its lowest in a year-and-a-half following weak growth data from China.

With little obvious read-across from the Asian data, European bond markets had been waiting for the German data and the results of a five-year German debt auction.

The reassuring numbers and an 4-billion-euro sale for Berlin saw benchmark safe-haven Bunds pare gains and left investors trying to gauge the European Central Bank’s next interest rate move.

With the global economic recovery remaining patchy, there have been clear signals from almost all the world’s big central banks over the last few weeks that they remain firmly in support mode.

While the Bank of Japan pursues an unprecedented stimulus drive, European Central Bank head Mario Draghi reiterated earlier this week that the bank would cut rates again if needed, and Australia’s rates hit a record low on Tuesday.

“It’s as if central banks were supporting their own government’s bond markets. Wait a minute, they are!” said Rabobank strategist Adrian Foster, adding that the indications were that they will continue do so.

Copyright @ Thomson Reuters 2013

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