Global shares up, Aussie dollar rebounds, Brent hits 2019 high

LONDON (Reuters) - Global shares crept higher on Friday as signs of progress on trade offset a worsening economic outlook, while the Aussie dollar recouped some losses after China denied it had halted Australian coal imports.

Brent crude oil hit a 2019 high, supported by OPEC's ongoing supply cuts.

Corporate earnings drove stock swings on European markets. The pan-European STOXX 600 index gained 0.3 percent and Germany's DAX was up over half a percent by afternoon trade in London. [.EU] Futures indicated an upbeat start to trading on Wall Street. [.N]

Shares in Asia were buoyed by a late rally in Chinese shares, with the main blue-chip index of Chinese shares rising 2.2 percent.

Chinese shares had faltered earlier amid concern about slowing domestic growth and indications that China would cut its benchmark interest rate only as a last resort to boost the economy.

Japan's Nikkei ended 0.2 percent lower after data showed core consumer inflation accelerated in January but remained far from the central bank's 2 percent target.

Australian shares gained 0.5 percent and Seoul's Kospi .KS11 ended up 0.1 percent.

The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was nearly 0.1 percent higher on the day. It was set for a second week of gains.

Trade talks and a growing number of policy U-turns by global central banks have propped up equities in recent weeks, although this week saw the first outflows from emerging market debt and equity funds since October 2018, Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said, citing EPFR data.

"We still expect China stocks to outperform on trade hopes and domestic stimulus," Credit Suisse strategists wrote in a daily note to clients.

Trade talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators continued in Washington, with little more than a week left before a U.S.-imposed deadline expires, triggering higher tariffs.

Reuters reported on Wednesday the two sides were drafting language for six memoranda of understanding on proposed Chinese reforms, progress that had helped to lift investor sentiment.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, the White House said.

"Given that enough headway seems to have been made to warrant a meeting between Trump and the Chinese negotiator today, it appears more likely that the U.S. will not raise the levies, which should help high-beta currencies and equities push higher," said Konstantinos Anthis, head of research at ADSS.

However, U.S. data showed its economic outlook was growing cloudy. The. Commerce Department said on Thursday domestic orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft unexpectedly fell 0.7 percent in December.

AUSSIE REBOUND

The Australian dollar recovered after falling more than 1 percent on Thursday, when Reuters reported the Chinese port of Dalian had banned imports of Australian coal indefinitely.

China's foreign ministry said on Friday coal imports continued, but customs had stepped up inspections environment and safety checks on foreign cargoes.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe cautioned against seeing restrictions as being directed at Australia, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban does not indicate a souring relationship between the countries.

Separate comments by Lowe that a rate increase may be appropriate next year also helped to boost the Aussie dollar. It was last up 0.35 percent at $0.71120.

Elsewhere, the euro was flat at $1.1331, though not far off a two-week high. German business morale fell for a sixth month in a row, to its lowest in over four years, a survey showed.

European Central Bank policymakers asked for swift preparations to give banks more long-term loans, minutes of its last meeting showed on Thursday. [FRX/]

The dollar index, which tracks the currency against six others, was 0.1 percent higher at 96.673.

Italian government bond yields crept up on Friday, reflecting caution among investors before a Fitch ratings review. [GVD/EUR]

Oil prices rose, supported by OPEC's ongoing supply cuts and hopes that Washington and Beijing may soon end their trade dispute.

U.S. crude oil rose 0.8 percent to $57.43 a barrel. International Brent crude rose half a percent to $67.60, setting a new 2019 high. [O/R]

Spot gold was last flat at $1,323.35 per ounce. [GOL/]

(Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; editing by Larry King)

02/22/2019 8:03

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