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World stocks hit new high as Spain relief, tech rally boost European scrips

MSCI's world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, rose 0.2% to its highest ever level

Reuters  |  London 

Market , Global stocks
A Spanish flag flutters above the Madrid Stock Exchange, Spain. Photo: Reuters.

A strong rally in the technology sector helped drive stocks to a record high on Monday, while a recovery in Spanish supported European after an opinion poll smoothed investors' concerns over Catalan secession.

MSCI's world equity index, which tracks in 47 countries, rose 0.2 per cent to its highest ever level. The index has surged 17.7 percent so far in 2017 and is on track for its best annual showing since 2013.

Eurozone stocks climbed 0.3 per cent, holding near their highest level in 10 years. European stocks have rallied this year as a healthy economy dovetailed with convincing growth in corporate earnings and a reduction in political risk.

"There is an avalanche of things that are happening or going to happen, but are just shrugging it off. It's like have been vaccinated against bad news thanks to the strength of the business cycle," said Marie Owens Thomsen, head of economic research at Indosuez Wealth Management in Geneva.

Spanish stocks extended gains, up 2 per cent and set for their best day in three weeks after a weekend poll suggested Catalan secessionists may lose their majority in regional elections scheduled for December.

Spain's benchmark 10-year bond yield fell 5 basis points to 1.486 per cent. Banks Caixabank and Sabadell, which moved their headquarters out of Catalonia due to the crisis, led gains on the IBEX.

The broader market showed signs of relief, with eurozone banks rising 0.6 per cent and Italian bond yields - which have been sensitive to the Spanish crisis - also falling.

Technology stocks also drove European trading, riding a wave of gains on the Nasdaq and in Asia after Apple said pre-orders for its new iPhone X were "off the charts".

iPhone component suppliers AMS, Dialog Semiconductor and STMicro led gains.

Europe's tech sector has quietly boomed and has outperformed the Nasdaq so far this year.

US stock futures pointed to a slight pullback at the open after blistering tech-driven gains on Friday. Dow Jones Industrial and futures were down 0.2 per cent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq was set to open flat.

CENTRAL BANKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

In a week of policy meetings by three major central banks, gold edged down 0.1 per cent on investor caution.

The Bank of England is widely expected to raise rates on Thursday, reversing its monetary easing following Britain's June 2016 vote to leave the European Union, but investors feared the decision could create more volatility than the well-received stimulus extension by the European Central Bank last week.

"This coming week will see whether the BoE has also managed to steer in the right direction," said Societe Generale analysts in a note.

Sterling rose 0.5 percent against the dollar as traders bid the currency higher on the expected rate rise.

Other major currencies kept to tight ranges as also awaited interest rate decisions by the Bank of Japan and the U.

S. Federal Reserve.

The dollar fell 0.3 percent against a basket of currencies as investors focused on the impending appointment of the next Federal Reserve chair, with speculation rife that Fed governor Jerome Powell is the favoured candidate.

An announcement is expected this week.

Relief over the situation in helped the euro recover from a three-month low to trade up 0.2 percent at $1.1629. The ECB's decision last week to extend bond purchases into September 2018 had sent the single currency sharply lower.

Oil firmed and energy stocks rose on expectations that an OPEC-led production cut due to expire next March would be extended.

Brent crude held above $60 a barrel, near its highest since mid-2015, while U. S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were near an eight-month high. Europe's oil and gas stocks rose 0.6 percent, among top gainers.

In other commodities, copper traded up 0.5 per cent, recovering from the previous sessions two-week low.

The surge in tech stocks helped MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific outside Japan gain 0.4 per cent overnight.

Apple's results on Thursday could offer the next big catalyst for tech stocks' seemingly unstoppable rise.

First Published: Mon, October 30 2017. 19:52 IST
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