September 30, 2019 / 12:46 AM / a month ago

Stocks inch higher as investors downplay escalating trade war

(This September 30 story has been refiled to correct company name in paragraph 11 to “Amundi” from “Amundi Pioneer”)

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A rise in U.S. technology stocks and better-than-expected economic data in China pushed global equity markets higher Monday, despite reports that Washington was considering escalating its trade war with China by delisting Chinese companies from U.S. exchanges.

U.S. President Donald Trump is looking at the move as part of a broader effort to limit U.S. investment in Chinese companies, sources told Reuters on Friday, though it was not clear how any such delisting would work.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.16%..MIWD00000PUS, following a 0.1% gain for Europe’s Euro STOXX 600 .

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 95.9 points, or 0.36%, to 26,916.15, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 14.89 points, or 0.50%, to 2,976.68 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 59.71 points, or 0.75%, to 7,999.34.

China has warned of instability in global markets from any “decoupling” with the United States, noting a U.S. Treasury response that said there were no immediate plans to block Chinese listings.

There were few signs that investors were fleeing to safe-haven assets, with benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR yielding 1.6732%, from 1.673% late on Friday.

Market players said the threat of delisting was being seen as just a tactic before U.S.-China trade talks resume next week. Investors are accustomed to belligerence from Trump before he dials down his rhetoric, said Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management.

“It’s a strategy that we have seen in the past - keeping the pressure very high and then settling for whatever deal is possible,” he said.

Any progress in talks next month would probably fall short of a comprehensive deal, he added. “It’s more likely than not that there will some kind of agreement that would be more cosmetic in nature.”

Also supporting the mood in Asia was economic data from China on Monday that showed sustained weakness in exports but a surprising improvement in domestic consumption indicators.

“This is better than what the market was expecting,” said Alessia Berardi, senior economist at Amundi, adding that markets were downplaying the likelihood of a major escalation in the trade war by Washington.

“The probability of implementing the (delisting) decision for the market is still quite low,” she said.

Chinese markets will trade only on Monday before a week-long holiday that marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The dollar was little changed against a basket of six major currencies .DXY, adding 0.1% to 99.117. Earlier this month it reached 99.37, its highest in more than two years.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

China's offshore yuan CNH=EBS also held steady before China's holiday, trading at 7.139 per dollar.

Oil prices slipped as the trade war continued to weigh on the growth outlook for China, the world’s largest crude importer. Brent crude LCOc1 futures fell 1.3% to $61.47 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLcv1 dropped 0.9% to $55.43.

Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Alex Richardson, Nick Zieminski and Cynthia Osterman

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