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Graphics: Stocks fly in first half but oil and dollar big losers
June 30, 2017 / 11:52 AM / 3 months ago

Graphics: Stocks fly in first half but oil and dollar big losers

A trader at the trading floor of KBC bank gives a phone call in Brussels, Belgium August 25, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks were on track for their best start to a year since 2003 while oil and the dollar were facing their biggest first-half drop for years.

The early months of 2017 were marked by the so-called Trump trades premised on U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledges of multi-trillion dollar spending and by a change in Europe’s political and growth outlook that has lured back investors.

But arguably the most significant shift for investors came in the last week of the second quarter when, in what looked like a concerted move, central bank policymakers appeared to signal it would soon be time to wind back the monetary stimulus that has buoyed markets for much of this decade.

As this graphic reut.rs/2sxO66c shows the dollar index, already down 4.5 percent for 2017 a week ago, was down 6.5 percent at Thursday's close and on track for its worst quarter in seven years and worst first half since 2003.

This despite the U.S. Federal Reserve raising interest rates twice this year.

The euro, boosted by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hinting on Wednesday at tweaks to the bank’s ultra-loose monetary policy stance, is up more than 8 percent year-to-date and heading for its best quarter in seven.

Dollar weakness has helped lift emerging equities, as measured by MSCI’s main index almost 18 percent in dollar terms so far this year.

World stocks have gained more than 10 percent in dollar terms, their best first half since 2003.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index gained 9.6 percent, just ahead of the S&P 500 on 9.2 percent.

Stuck at the bottom of the performance league table, down 16.5 percent in dollar terms year-to-date is Brent crude oil, hit by a perception that output cuts agreed by OPEC producers and others will not be enough to stem the glut of oil.

It was on track for its worst first six months of any year since 1998.

In Brexit-bound Britain, which has just been through a messy election, the pound has dropped 3 percent against the euro. The weaker currency has been a boost for exporters, lifting the country’s main FTSE 100 stock index 8.2 percent.

Emerging markets have shrugged off the U.S. rate rises and the oil and tech tumbles. Bonds in emerging market currencies have returned almost 10 percent in dollar terms, while hard currency sovereign debt is up 6 percent.

But within emerging markets there are losers as well as winners. (See graphic, tmsnrt.rs/2dZbdP5)

Russian equities, heavily oil-reliant and a star of late 2016, have lost 17 percent but energy importer Turkey’s stock index has risen 30 percent, despite inflation, domestic political risks and policy wobbles.

The Mexican peso is the world's top performing currency, up 15 percent on the dollar, as faith wanes in Trump's ability to implement anti-trade and anti-immigration pledges. (See graphic, tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh)

Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Poland’s zloty which has surged 13 percent against the dollar.

Brazil’s real has been one of the worst-performing currencies, down 4 percent in 2017 due to fresh corruption scandals that have hit the country.

Reporting by Marc Jones, Sujata Rao, Dhara Ranasinghe and Nigel Stephenson; Editing by Toby Chopra

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