World stocks high as US-China trade tensions ease

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LONDON (Reuters) – Prospects of a thaw in US-China trade tensions supported global stocks on Monday, as US President Donald Trump pledged to help ZTE Corp “get back into business, fast” after a US ban crippled the Chinese technology company, while oil prices recovered some lost ground.

Mr Trump’s comments on Sunday came ahead of a second round of trade talks between US and Chinese officials this week to resolve an escalating trade dispute. China had said last week its stance in the negotiations would not change.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was up 0.1 percent, holding at its highest level in seven weeks and in positive territory for the year.

European stocks dipped 0.3 percent as financials weighed, while EMini futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent.

“There have been some very serious issues raised in terms of the trade relationship between the US and China, and then they’ve had this quite sudden about-turn on this particular company, and it simply raises questions as to what the underlying policy is,” said Alastair George, chief strategist at Edison Investment Research.

“This is perhaps a little reminder which is being relatively well-received by markets over the last 24 hours that (with) the US administration there is a strong degree of unpredictability compared to prior regimes,” Mr George added.

The United States has said it will lift sanctions on Pyongyang if North Korea agrees to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Stocks in Asia were also upbeat. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei also tacked on 0.5 percent.

Chinese shares came off the day’s highs but still ended in positive territory after Trump’s comments on ZTE Corp, which JPMorgan analysts said was “a significant positive”.

Shanghai’s SSE Composite index rose 0.3 percent while the blue-chip rallied 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index climbed 1.4 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Malaysian ringgit recovered losses after sliding 1 percent to a four-month trough against the dollar in the first onshore trade since a shock election upset last week. Malaysian stocks sank as much as 2.7 percent at one point but ended 0.2 percent higher.

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