Global shares advance despite doubts over US-China trade deal

Markets are boosted by a surprise bounce in Chinese manufacturing activity

epa07961967 A woman passes the CRSC booth on the China International Rail Transit and Equipment Manufacturing Expo in Changsha, Hunan province, China, 18 October 2019 (issued 31 October 2019). China's manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) foaled for sixth month in a row, according to official data released on 31 October. The ongoing contraction illustrates a worsening business climate, despite Beijing's efforts to spark economic growth. Media reports state that the October PMI was below expectations at 49.3 points from September at 49.8 and the lowest since hitting the 49.2 in February 2019.  EPA/ALEX PLAVEVSKI  ATTENTION: This Image is part of a PHOTO SET
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World shares were eyeing two-year highs and a fourth straight week of gains on Friday despite fresh concerns over a report that cast doubt on the prospects for a long-term US-China trade deal.

Impeachment strains on Washington, the first day at the European Central Bank without Mario Draghi and monthly US jobs figures were all in the mix too. However, factors positively influencing the markets included the third US interest rate cut of the year and a surprise bounce in Chinese manufacturing activity.

Europe's Stoxx 600 index started 0.3 per cent higher, led by a 0.4 per cent rise in Germany's China-exposed firms after the overnight news that China's factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in more than two years last month.

That had helped Asia too. Chinese blue chips jumped 1.7 per cent in their best day since mid-August, Seoul's Kospi rose 0.77 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.65 per cent despite data confirming protests there had pushed city into its first recession in a decade.

"The (Chinese) numbers are good given it came ahead of expectations and expansion is always a welcome," said David Madden, an analyst at CMC markets in London.

There had been a slight wobble in sentiment overnight after a Bloomberg report citing unnamed Chinese officials airing doubts over whether a comprehensive long-term trade deal is possible.

Efforts by Washington and Beijing to end their bruising nearly 16-month trade war had appeared on track on Thursday. US President Donald Trump said the two sides would soon announce a new venue for the signing of a "Phase One" trade deal, after protests in Chile had seen a planned summit there this month cancelled.

China's doubts were "not entirely unexpected", Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro, said in a note to clients, saying that the falls in equity markets overnight were relatively small.

"Either way, today's deluge of manufacturing PMI's and then US non-farm (payrolls) will be an important factor in where markets head next," he added.

Payrolls figures are always closely scrutinised by traders as they are seen as an up-to-date gauge of US economic health. Forecasts this time are for 89,000 new jobs last month which would be well below September's 136,000 and the recent average.

There also will be the ISM manufacturing PMI reading which is expected to see a rise to 48.9 from 47.8 in September. A separate PMI survey from the Chicago Fed on Thursday showed a sharper contraction in midwestern manufacturing activity for October.

The expectation of more soft data kept the dollar down against the yen at 107.97 and on track for its biggest weekly loss against the Japanese currency since October 4.

It was also at a 10-day low versus the euro at $1.1165, still struggling after the Federal Reserve had cut US interest rates for a third time this year on Wednesday.

Euro zone government bond yields steadied near two-week lows meanwhile, on course for their biggest weekly decline in five weeks as Christine Lagarde officially began her presidency of the ECB.

A decision to resume asset purchases this week has divided the central bank and fuelled a perception in markets that the bar to further monetary easing is now high.

Having discounted an ECB depo rate of close to -0.8 per cent just a couple of months ago, the market no longer expects another cut of 10 basis points in 2020.

"It's pretty clear that Lagarde has an uphill task in trying to promote unity that leads to a coherent set of policies going forward," said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec. "Her own views can be characterised as continuity with" former ECB chief Mario Draghi.

Among the main commodities, oil prices were little changed on Friday but set for a slide of around 3.5 per cent on the week hurt by rising global supply and concerns about future demand.