Shares bounce as bulls fight back at end of brutal October

LONDON (Reuters) – Stock markets bounced higher on Wednesday, bringing some relief after a brutal October in which equities have suffered one of their worst drops in a decade and spooked investor confidence.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Staff

Sino-U.S. trade tensions, concerns about global growth and higher U.S. interest rates and fears that corporate earnings are peaking have combined to shake financial markets in October, leaving most major markets in negative territory for the year.

That has spurred predictions that an almost decade-long bull-market has run its course.

Data overnight showing that China’s factory growth slowed to its lowest in two years has reinforced worries about weakening growth stemming from the trade conflict with the United States, and followed disappointing euro zone growth data published on Tuesday.

Investors rushed into the dollar, sending it to a 16-month high while the offshore Chinese yuan was left to nurse another 22-month low.

A batch of positive earnings set a firmer tone for European stocks on Wednesday, although pan-European indexes are headed for their weakest month since August 2015.

The leading euro zone stock index was up 1.5 percent in early trading, with the pan-European STOXX 600 up 1.4 percent and Germany’s DAX up 1.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 increased 1.4 percent.

The gains follow Asia, where the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.4 percent, drawing support from gains on Wall Street.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, rose 0.6 percent but remains down 8.2 percent in October, its worst month since 2012.

The index is down 13 percent from all-time highs hit in January.

“Ultimately I’m still of the belief that we are in for more downside and rallies are for selling, but squeezes in bear markets are not normally comfortable affairs,” said Neil Campling, co-head of the global thematic group at Mirabaud Securities.

“I think a 2-3 day battle toward the top of the downtrend. Then we can return to the bigger picture – the mid-terms (U.S. elections), trade wars, rates etc. Once a few shorts have been taken out of the tape.”

Fresh concerns over growth in Asia and the euro zone come as the U.S. economy continues to look in healthier shape, spurring fresh demand for the dollar.

The greenback, measured against a basket of currencies, scaled a fresh 2018 peak on Wednesday, while the euro labored near $1.1352, recovering slightly from losses earlier in the week.

“Euro zone growth figures have been disappointing and the Bank of Japan is striking a dovish stance at a policy meeting today so there is more room for the dollar to gain from current levels,” said Paul Bednarczyk, director of G10 FX at Continuum Economics based in London.

China’s offshore yuan fell to a fresh 22-month low of 6.9795. In onshore markets it was flat at 6.9673 per dollar but remained near a decade low brushed on Tuesday.

The Chinese currency was on track for a loss of 1.4 percent in October, its seventh straight monthly loss, the longest such losing streak on record. CNY/

The Australian dollar fell 0.3 percent while the Japanese yen was flat at 113.12 versus the dollar, a three-week low.

Oil prices recovered as markets braced for the imposition of U.S. sanctions on Iran next week, after dropping to multi-month lows the previous day.

U.S. crude futures rose 0.92 percent to $66.79 per barrel after dropping to $65.33 on Tuesday, the lowest since mid-August.

Brent crude gained 1.11 percent to $76.75 after a decline of 1.8 percent on Tuesday.

For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets open a news window on Reuters Eikon by pressing F9 and type in ‘Live Markets’ in the search bar.

Additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee and Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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