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Global share indices have broadly experienced a positive week, primarily as a consequence of expectations that both the US Federal Reserve (The Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB) could intervene if trade tensions hit the global economy.
Starting in the US, stocks bounced back having suffered losses in May, with the S&P experiencing its best week of the year, ending roughly 3% off its all-time high, whilst the Dow Jones Industrial Average escaped its longest weekly losing streak since 2011. The catalyst appeared to be remarks from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, pledging that policymakers were paying close attention to the impact of trade tensions on the economy. A poor payrolls number for May only accentuated hopes for a potential turn in policy. Sentiment was also lifted by signs that congressional Republicans might act to block new tariffs on Mexico.
In Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi said that the bank would delay the timing of an interest rate increase by at least six months, and provided terms for a new series of quarterly targeted, longer-term refinancing operations, known as TLTROs. These are intended to provide some stimulus to the region’s financial systems by providing cheap loans to banks. Draghi also alluded to weak inflation; a pause in rate-rises would allow policymakers to address this, alongside the continued slowdown in export-driven manufacturing.
In the UK, the FTSE 100 rose despite the leadership void in the Conservative Party. Prime Minister Theresa May has now abandoned her Brexit efforts and signalled that she would leave the task of resolving a parliamentary standoff to her successor. A new leader, however, is not expected to be put in place before July and a dozen are currently in the running in a contest that formally began yesterday.
Finally, stocks advanced in Japan, curtailing a painful four-week slide in May. This came despite the World Bank cutting Japan’s growth forecast for 2019 to 0.8% from 0.9%, citing the US-China trade dispute as the main reason for the downward revision.
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