The National Times - Asia, Europe stocks chase Wall Street higher

Asia, Europe stocks chase Wall Street higher

Asia, Europe stocks chase Wall Street higher
Asia, Europe stocks chase Wall Street higher

Asian and European equities rallied Friday on clarity over rising US interest rates, while the euro hit a one-month dollar low before France's presidential election.

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Equities rose after a tough week dominated by the US Federal Reserve's hawkish tone in minutes from its March monetary policy gathering.

The euro sank to $1.0848 before of Sunday's French presidential runoff vote, with the unit dented also by European officials' reticence to move as aggressively as the Fed on tackling soaring inflation.

Oil prices steadied as traders mulled the recent release of nations' strategic reserves to combat recent Ukraine-driven turmoil over Russian crude supplies.

- Strong US finish -

Equity investors took their cue "from a strong finish to a turbulent trading session on Wall Street overnight", said AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould.

"Commodities firms and financial stocks, the latter boosted by expectations of faster rate hikes, helped lead the charge higher."

Commodity prices have been boosted in recent weeks because Ukraine and Russia are key producers of raw materials.

Financial firms were given a shot in the arm on Friday as investors became more willing to take risks.

"The fortunes of financial stocks have been closely aligned with risk appetite over the last couple of months and we're continuing to see that now," said OANDA analyst Craig Erlam.

"If the economy can weather the storm, they could be in a strong position given how higher interest rates are generally beneficial for them."

The Fed has made clear it intends to act more decisively to rein in 40-year-high inflation by ramping up borrowing costs and offloading bond holdings.

Wall Street recovered from steep intraday losses to end on a positive note Thursday.

Markets have come under huge pressure this year as the end of ultra-cheap central bank cash, a Covid-fuelled slowdown in China's economic activity, the war in Ukraine and soaring inflation come together in a perfect storm.

However, so far this year the London FTSE 100 index has won more than three percent in value, boosted by heavyweight commodity and oil companies whose share prices have benefitted from soaring prices of raw materials.

In contrast, Frankfurt's DAX has shed in excess of 10 percent and the Paris CAC 40 has lost eight percent, hit also by energy security concerns as a result of EU nations' reliance on gas supplies from sanctions-hit Russia.

- Key figures around 1130 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.0 percent at 7,628.52 points

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 1.4 percent at 14,276.24

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.5 percent at 6,555.41

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.5 percent at 3,859.29

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 26,985.80 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.3 percent at 21,872.01 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,251.85 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 34,583.57 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0868 from $1.0879 late Thursday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3030 from $1.3075

Euro/pound: UP at 83.40 pence from 83.20 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 124.18 yen from 123.95 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $100.49 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $96.08 per barrel