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Markets slightly firmer after doubts over slowing Chinese economy

Wall Street investors waiting for an interest rate cut

By AFP - Jul 15,2019 - Last updated at Jul 15,2019

In this photo taken on May 23, the ‘Wall St’ sign is seen near US flags in front of the New York Stock Exchange on a rainy day on Wall Street in New York City (AFP file photo)

LONDON — World stock markets were slightly firmer on Monday, mostly posting modest gains after initial doubts on news that China's economy grew at its weakest pace in nearly three decades as US President Donald Trump's trade war hit home.

Wall Street opened little changed to weaker after its record-breaking run, with the market still counting on the US central bank to cut interest rates sooner rather than later despite recent strong jobs data.

Investors were also waiting to see earnings from JPMorgan Chase and the other banks, as well as other major companies such as Netflix, United Continental and Johnson & Johnson.

In Europe, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 0.34 per cent higher and Frankfurt's DAX 30 put on 0.52 per cent while the Paris CAC 40 edged up 0.10 per cent.

"It was a day without much movement. The markets are really just waiting for a stronger lead on the macroeconomic data front," Yann Azuelos of Mirabaud France told AFP.

Asian equities initially stumbled but then staged a recovery as traders digested Chinese second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) numbers.

China's economy expanded 6.2 per cent in the second quarter, the slowest headline reading since the early 1990s, official data showed. The outcome was in line with forecasts and within the government's target range.

"There's no doubt in anyone's mind that the trade war is a major contributing factor here," noted Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.
"The Chinese data, while confirming slowdown fears, seems to be lifting basic resource stocks," Erlam said.

"A decent rebound in industrial production is naturally driving this, easily exceeding expectations, and along with retail sales and investment figures, arguably indicates that worst fears are not being realised."

The GDP number, nevertheless, highlights the negative impact the US tariffs stand-off is having on China, as leaders also try to recalibrate its growth model from exports and state investment to one driven by consumer spending.

Observers pointed out that the weakness raised the chances of further monetary easing measures from the central People's Bank of China, with investors also tracking the progress of the latest trade talks between Washington and Beijing.


Fed rate cut 


Amid concerns about the possible impact, some expect the US Federal Reserve (Fed) will cut borrowing costs at the end of the month, though there is speculation about how far it will go.

While bank boss Jerome Powell's congressional testimony last week flagged a reduction, data indicating inflation remains reasonably healthy has kept investors guessing.

"The Fed is under pressure to cut the interest rate this year," noted ThinkMarkets analyst Naeem Aslam.

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