December 28, 2018 / 12:46 AM / 5 months ago

World stocks at one-week highs as Wall Street extends rebound

LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks rose to one-week highs on Friday and looked set to snap a three-week losing streak after a late-session bounce overnight on Wall Street filtered into Asian and European markets.

Safe-haven assets were also in demand amid broader doubts about the market stability that in turn eroded the dollar’s appeal.

U.S. shares appeared poised for another rise, with futures for the S&P500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq indices all up around half a percent while a pan-European benchmark rose 1.7 percent, reversing Thursday’s retreat.

That took MSCI’s all-country equity index 0.6 percent higher, for a weekly gain so far of almost 2 percent.

Non-U.S. equities have however not matched a two-day surge on Wall Street that saw the S&P 500 gain 5.9 percent, its best performance since August 2015.

While Wall Street’s resilience has fuelled hope that some of the market pressure may be easing, investors remain wary.

“The volatility here at year-end is unlikely to be sustained, but without more encouraging signals from Washington, the markets will likely remain treacherous in the New Year,” Marc Chandler at Bannockburn securities told clients.

Volatility in Europe and in the United States spiked to highs not seen since a global stock market correction in February, but the main volatility gauge has since subsided to one-week lows.

Among currencies, the dollar slipped 0.55 percent to 110.40 yen and was on track to lose more than 2 percent against the Japanese currency this month. Against the Swiss franc, it declined 0.3 percent to 0.9853 francs.

Another safe-haven asset, gold, inched up to touch a six-month high of $1,282 an ounce.

The steady drumbeat of disappointing data continued to reinforce caution, with Japan’s industrial output contracting in November and retail sales showing sharply.

In Europe, German annual inflation slowed sharply in December.

The euro and sterling both firmed 0.3 percent against the soft dollar , while an index of emerging market currencies touched three-week highs.

Chris Bailey, a strategist at brokerage Raymond James, said dollar weakness was good news for non-U.S. assets.

“My feeling is... if we get the transmission mechanism of a lower dollar, stocks outside the U.S. are set up for a good 2019,” Bailey said. “Once people get their heads around the fact the U.S. is not going to have yet another double-digit return year in 2019, you can look elsewhere.”

This year though, the annual picture for most assets remains grim, with world stocks for instance losing close to 12 percent so far in 2018 and oil prices falling 30 percent.

Brent crude futures, which had rebounded after Thursday’s 4.2 percent fall, eased back half a percent to $51.9 a barrel as rising U.S. inventories and concern over global economic growth weighed

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 27, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

On bond markets, yields on safer debt from Germany and the United States rose slightly, though they remained near multi-month lows.

In Italy, 10-year yields are set for their biggest monthly drop since July 2015. The last auction of the year there saw investors willing to buy 10-year government bonds at 2.70 percent, down from 3.24 percent last month.

The auction could be a sign Italy has turned a corner after months of volatile trading amid fractious talks over its spending plans with Brussels.

Additional reporting by Sujata Rao, Saikat Chatterjee and Helen Reid; Editing by Catherine Evans and John Stonestreet

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