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Equities gain on commodities rise while dollar falls

Stocks rose worldwide yesterday supported by a rally in commodities such as copper and precious metals, while the US dollar fell on investor caution ahead of a news conference by US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday.

European stock markets, which had opened broadly lower, edged back towards recent one-year peaks, while Wall Street shares traded higher.

Commodities such as copper gained on further signs of a pick-up in China’s economy.

Oil prices were lower on the day but were off their weakest levels of the previous session when they fell nearly four per cent.

In the United States, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.22 per cent to 19,930.29, while the S&P 500 was up 0.3 per cent to 2,275.42.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 0.5 per cent to 5,556.79. It hit a record intraday high on Tuesday, extending its bullish run.

European stocks were also higher, with Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index adding 0.2 per cent at 1,439.87. Earlier, the index hit a record high.

The dollar, meanwhile, paused its rally yesterday, with the dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, slipping 0.1 per cent to 101.84.

Uncertainty ahead of Mr Trump’s comments, however, dampened demand for the dollar. Analysts also said traders were watching hearings for his choices for senior administration posts, which started yesterday with US Senator Jeff Sessions, picked for attorney general.

The Trump factor also pressured the Mexican peso, which hit a record low against the dollar.

Britain’s currency hit a fresh 10-week low against the dollar earlier in the session but recovered by midday in New York trading. It was last up 0.1 per cent at $1.2166.

The outlook for the pound remained shaky, however, especially after weekend comments by Prime Minister Theresa May saying she was not interested in Britain keeping “bits” of its EU membership.

A revival in worries that Britain could be headed for a “hard Brexit”, in which it chooses to take full control of immigration and give up access to the eurozone single market, reverberated across financial markets, lifting demand for safe-haven assets such as German government bonds and gold, which rose to its highest in over a month.

Oil prices fell, with Brent crude down 0.93 per cent, at $54.43 a barrel. US crude also fell 0.7 per cent, to $51.59.

With little major US data on the calendar, attention turned to a news conference today by Mr Trump, his first since winning the election.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 3.12 points or 0.71 per cent, to 441.47.

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