Global stocks, dollar up slightly as pivotal week for markets gets underway

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People walk past an electronic board showing stock prices outside a brokerage at a business district in Tokyo, Japan, January 23, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

An event-packed week for global markets got underway on Monday with stocks steady and the dollar recovering from a three-day fall as investors braced for a potential interest rate hike in the United States, a Dutch election and the first G20 finance ministers’ meeting of the Trump era.

Strong U.S. employment data and talk that European Central Bank policymakers had begun thinking about how to raise interest rates as inflation returns saw market participants, particularly in bond and currency markets, start to price in higher borrowing costs.

Buying from the start of European trade on Monday halted three days of losses for the dollar which gained against both the euro EUR= and a basket of currencies. .DXY

Fed fund futures prices showed investors pricing in more than a 90 percent chance of an increase in U.S. overnight interest rates and the market’s attention is now firmly on the scale of tightening further out.

“Improved growth and inflation prospects are allowing developed market central banks to sketch their exits from extreme accommodation at varying speeds,” David Folkerts-Landau, group chief economist at Deutsche Bank wrote in a note to clients.

Sterling GBP=D4 rose 0.4 percent against the dollar, however, ahead of a vote in Britain’s lower house of parliament on legislation that will give the government permission to trigger Britain’s exit from the European Union.

“The push and pull between solid growth momentum and political risks look set to continue in the near-term,” Folkerts-Landau said.

The world’s most powerful finance ministers and central bankers convene in the German spa town of Baden-Baden on March 17-18, their first meeting since Donald Trump’s U.S. election victory in November where his protectionist stance on international trade is likely to be a key issue.

Gains in mining stocks and continued corporate deal-making activity helped European shares offset weakness in oil-related shares, with the benchmark STOXX 600 up 0.2 percent in early trades.

The FTSE 100 .FTSE was up slightly where along with mining blue chips a 1 percent gain for shares of HSBC (HSBA.L) supported the index.

HSBC shares rose after Europe’s biggest bank tapped an outsider, Mark Tucker, for its top job.

In bond markets, euro zone government bond yields pulled back from multi-week highs, as nervous investors turned their focus to this week’s Dutch parliamentary elections — the next key gauge of populism in Europe.

Although the risk of a eurosceptic party coming to power in the Netherlands is small, a strong election performance could renew concerns about the popularity of the far-right in French presidential elections in April and May, said Erin Browne, head of macro investments at UBS O’Connor, a hedge fund manager within UBS Asset Management.

“If you see a eurosceptic party gains a significantly larger share of the vote than current polls suggest that could spill over into concern about the French elections and the National Front doing better in the second round of voting than is currently being predicted,” she said.

“That’s the risk for markets with a view to the Dutch elections.”

A sharp pullback in oil prices which fell to their lowest in three months and are on track for a fifth day of losses also kept investor confidence in check.

The slump in prices has occurred as more rigs are deployed to look for oil in the United States and as crude inventories in the United States, the world’s biggest oil consumer, have surged to a record. [O/R]

(Reporting by Vikram Subhedar; Editing by Toby Chopra)

 

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