Global stocks stall on trade talk uncertainty, German data hits euro

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stocks held near the unchanged mark on Thursday, as investors looked for more detailed signs of progress in U.S.-China trade talks while disappointing economic data out of Germany knocked the euro.

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Staff

Mixed reports about progress on a trade deal left investors cautious about taking on more risk after a five-day run of gains that sent stocks to a six-month high.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday trade talks with China were going well and he would only accept a “great” deal as negotiators hammered out differences ahead of a meeting between Trump and China’s vice premier later in the day.

After a run of mixed economic data, Friday’s U.S. payrolls report also loomed large for investors for signs the labor market remained robust. Labor market data on Thursday showed weekly jobless claims fell to their lowest since 1969.

“People are believing something is going to come out of it, and net, the U.S. will be better off than they were a year ago, maybe not getting everything they want, but net better off. That is probably built into prices right now,” said Craig Callahan¸ president at ICON Funds in Denver.

“Unless it is just an outrageous deal, anything within the normal range of expectations is built in.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 166.5 points, or 0.64%, to 26,384.63, the S&P 500 gained 6.01 points, or 0.21%, to 2,879.41 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.77 points, or 0.05%, to 7,891.78.

Germany’s data showed industrial orders fell at their sharpest rate in more than two years in February, driven largely by a slump in foreign demand.

It compounded signals that Europe’s largest economy has had a soft start to the year, held the euro near $1.12 and sent German Bund yields back below zero.

GRAPHIC-Germany laggard Europe April 4, click

Shares in Europe also to snap a four-day streak of gains, as the STOXX 600 pulled back from eight-month highs. The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.27% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.01%.

The dollar firmed against a basket of major currencies while sterling fell on concerns Britain could be staring at a long Brexit delay.

Reuters reported 25 lawmakers in Britain’s opposition Labour Party have urged their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to go the “extra step” if there is a chance of agreeing a Brexit deal in talks with Prime Minister Theresa May.

But pro-Brexit lawmakers in Britain’s upper house of parliament tried to stop the approval of a new law that would force May to seek a delay to prevent a disorderly EU exit on April 12 without a deal, underscoring the contentious nature of the process.

The dollar index rose 0.19%, with the euro down 0.11% to $1.1222. Sterling was last trading at $1.3078, down 0.62% on the day.

Brent crude resumed its upward climb, briefly topping $70 per barrel for the first time since November as expectations of tight global oil supply outweighed pressure from rising U.S. inventories and production.

U.S. crude settled down 0.58% at $62.10 per barrel and Brent settled at $69.40, up 0.13% on the day.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas and James Dalgleish