Global stocks steady below record highs ahead of inflation data

Energy stocks boost European markets

Global stocks steadied below this week’s record highs and oil prices rose in jittery markets on Wednesday ahead of inflation data later in the day.

The US consumer price index for October is predicted by a Reuters poll of economists to come in at an annualised 4.3 per cent on the closely watched core measure, versus the US Federal Reserve’s average annual 2 per cent inflation target.

“We know inflation is high right now, equity markets don’t expect it to stay too high for too long,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.

The mood could change if there were signs that inflation pressures went beyond supply chain concerns, he added.

Brent and US crude futures extended gains into a fourth session, hitting two-week highs around $85 a barrel, after industry data showed US crude stocks unexpectedly fell last week.

The MSCI global equity index was stable and S&P 500 futures were also flat after Wall Street closed lower on Tuesday, ending a multi-day rally of consecutive record closing highs as the end of a consensus-beating earnings season comes into view.

European markets

European stocks gained 0.18 per cent, helped by energy stocks, but were also stuck below recent highs, while Britain’s FTSE 100 index rose 0.36 per cent.

Marks & Spencer surged after the British retailer delivered a strong profit and upgraded its annual forecast. The mid-cap index advanced 0.3 per cent, buoyed by Marks & Spencer surging 15.5 per cent to scale its highest level since January 2020 after the company beat first-half profit forecasts and raised its full-year outlook for the second time this year.

The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index gained 0.4 per cent, led by oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and BP rising 0.9 per cent and 2.1 per cent, respectively, as crude prices strengthened on an unexpected fall in global supply.

UK's largest cycle retailer Halfords Group Plc jumped 12.1 per cent after it raised its full-year earnings forecast as supply chain disruptions were beginning to ease.

Another inflation warning came from Chinese factory gate prices, which are gaining at their fastest clip in a quarter century.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed earlier losses to gain 0.16 per cent.

Shares in Chinese property developer Fantasia Holdings fell as much as 50 per cent, before recouping some losses, after a six-week trading halt as the company warned it might not be able to meet its debt obligations.

Oxford Economics analysts said they expected China’s property downturn to be “contained” but added that “with shifting demographics, high numbers of empty apartments, and some big property developers being heavily over-leveraged, China’s huge property sector could crash more heavily”.

Hong Kong stocks also recovered ground, gaining 0.75 per cent after earlier hitting a one-month low.

Japan's Nikkei fell 0.6 per cent, hurt by the rising cost of raw materials.

Gold and Bitcoin have been the primary beneficiaries of the market turbulence, with gold up about 3.5 per cent in a week to $1,826 an ounce and Bitcoin hovering at $66,778 after hitting a record of $68,564 a day ago. – Reuters

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