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World stock index at highest in over five months on trade deal

An index of major world stock markets rose to its highest level in more than five months yesterday after the United States and Mexico struck an agreement that lowers trade tensions.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks in 47 countries across the globe climbed one per cent, helped by gains in developed markets from the US to Europe and Asia. The broad index was at its highest level since March 14.

The benchmark S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes hit records, bond prices fell and copper prices rose as the US and Mexico agreed to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), putting pressure on Canada to agree to the new terms on auto trade and other issues to remain part of the pact. Agreement could ease concerns about an escalation in global trade tensions.

Major currencies gained versus the US dollar, a safe haven from months of trade tensions.

“The [Nafta] talks add to the sense that while the US is still bogged down in its trade conflict with China, it is perhaps more willing to compromise elsewhere such as with Mexico and the EU,” said Ulrich Leuchtmann, FX and emerging market research head at Commerzbank, Frankfurt.

“It’s decreasing the risk of a global trade war.”

The Dow Jones rose 270.2 points to 26,060.55, the S&P 500 gained 22.78 points to 2,897.47 and the Nasdaq Composite added 76.50 points to 8,022.48.

The S&P and Nasdaq indexes both hit record highs, continuing a run that followed Fed chief Jerome Powell’s speech at the Jackson Hole symposium on Friday. Powell affirmed that the US central bank was sticking with its strategy of gradual rate hikes. The gains cemented the S&P’s longest-running bull market.

A stronger-than-expected German business sentiment survey added to the upbeat EU mood. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.52 per cent, while British markets were closed for a public holiday.

“We have low volumes today, but the biggest risks the market were discounting were trade wars, so any reduction in trade war risk such as Nafta talks or even Trump trying to find bilateral deals with everyone, has pushed US shares to new records and will support markets,” said Angelo Meda, head of equities at Banor SIM in Italy.

“The global economy is on track, there’s less trade war risk, the only cloud on the horizon is Italy,” Meda added, referring to upcoming budget talks.

Benchmark 10-year US Treasury notes last fell 6/32 in price to yield 2.8477 per cent, from 2.826 per cent late on Friday.

The dollar steadied after weeks of gains in the face of aggressive Fed rate hikes and trade disputes. The dollar index fell 0.46 per cent.

Commodity markets showed signs of optimism about global economic growth.

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