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Stock markets mostly up as crunch G-20 summit gets under way

By AFP - Jun 29,2019 - Last updated at Jun 29,2019

In this photo taken on January 29, a monitor displays numbers ahead of the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (AFP file photo)

NEW YORK — European and US stocks climbed on Friday as investors kept a watch on developments at a Group of 20 summit in Japan, where US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping were due for a high-stakes discussion on trade.

As heads of the world’s 20 leading economies began their summit in Osaka, Trump said he was hopeful that Saturday’s talks would be “productive”.

Global equities have enjoyed a largely positive couple of weeks on hopes for progress in the head-to-head meeting between the leaders of the world’s top two economies, though the possibility of failure persists.

“Optimism has been limited at best,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at the trading firm IG.

“The fact that the trade conflict has lasted this long sends a message that both sides are not rushing towards a deal, or are prepared to make significant concessions.”

In Europe, both Paris and Frankfurt closed with solid gains, while London edged up 0.3 per cent.

On Wall Street, the broad-based S&P 500 finished the session at 2,941.76, up 0.6 per cent for the day. The index has risen 17.3 per cent so far this year, the best first half of a year since 1997.

The mood in Asia was more downbeat with Shanghai ending down 0.6 per cent and Tokyo and Hong Kong each off 0.3 per cent.

The dollar was down slightly against the euro and pound, while sterling did not react to official data confirming that Britain’s Brexit-facing economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter.

 

‘Greatest threat’ 

 

Saturday’s Trump-Xi meeting is “hugely important as the trade war represents arguably the greatest threat to the global economy — especially if it is allowed to escalate further,” Craig Erlam of Oanda trading group told AFP.

There remains some uncertainty about how the meeting will go, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that Xi plans to demand the United States reverse a ban on doing business with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei as a condition for kick-starting talks.

Trade talks stalled last month, with US officials accusing their Chinese counterparts of reneging on core commitments negotiated so far.

Some market watchers think the two sides will agree to a cease-fire on new tariffs but not reach a comprehensive agreement.

Elsewhere on Friday, world oil prices wobbled as dealers await next week’s output meeting of OPEC and other top crude-producing nations, notably Russia.

OPEC is on red alert over escalating US-Iran tensions that have fueled recent strong oil-price gains — but producers are likely to extend output cuts agreed late last year, according to analysts.

“The outcome of the OPEC meeting in Vienna on Monday seems to be a done deal,” noted City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.

“Most of the major players have already indicated that the group plans to extend production cuts put in place in December and there has been no major dissenting voice among the oil producers.”

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