Global markets edge up as eye on China and inflation

Speculation about a possible relaxation of China’s zero-Covid strategy has had a huge impact on markets. [iStockphoto]

Global stocks mostly advanced yesterday as investors weighed uncertainties such as the US midterm elections and China’s possible moves to ease coronavirus restrictions.

Oil prices fell and US futures edged lower. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.4 per cent to 6,391.90 in early trading, while Germany’s DAX edged up nearly 0.1 per cent to 13,470.68.

Britain’s FTSE 100 rose nearly 0.1 per cent to 7,340.85. The future for the Dow industrials slipped 0.1 per cent, while the future for the S&P 500 edged up 0.2 per cent.

China reported its trade shrank in October as global demand weakened and anti-virus controls weighed on domestic consumer spending.

Exports declined 0.3 per cent from a year earlier, down from September’s 5.7 per cent growth, the customs agency reported yesterday.

Imports fell 0.7 per cent, compared with the previous month’s 0.3 per cent expansion.

Economists have been forecasting that the world’s second-largest economy’s trade will slow as global demand cools following interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and other central banks to rein in surging inflation.

Zero-Covid strategy

Speculation about a possible relaxation of China’s zero-Covid strategy has had a huge impact on markets. On Monday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 2.7 per cent to 16,595.91 and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2 per cent to 3,077.85.

There has been no official confirmation in China of a major change.

“Over the weekend, Beijing has dashed hopes of China re-opening in the horizon, by reasserting of zero-Covid policies. And this could induce fresh caution,” Tan Boon Heng at Mizuho Bank in Singapore said in a report.

In the US, Tuesday’s election will decide control of Congress and key governorships. History suggests the party in power may suffer significant losses in the mid-terms, and decades-high inflation has become a significant issue for the Democrats.

Analysts say regional markets may take a wait-and-see approach ahead of the US mid-term vote.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.2 per cent to finish at 27,527.64. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 per cent to 6,933.70. South Korea’s Kospi gained nearly 1.0 per cent to 2,371.79.

Shares rose in Taiwan and but edged lower in India.