Global Markets – Dollar nurses widespread losses

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The U.S. dollar nursed widespread losses on Thursday after President-elect Donald Trump’s long-awaited news briefing provided scant clarity on future fiscal policies, disappointing bulls wagering on major stimulus.

Yet, neither did Trump mention possible tariffs against Chinese exports, a relief for Asian share markets that have feared the outbreak of a global trade war.

It was enough to help MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climb 0.6 per cent to its highest since late October, as Shanghai stocks edged up 0.2 per cent.

U.S. crude was 52.14 dollars, though that followed gains of nearly three per cent overnight. Brent crude was at 55.06 dollars a barrel.

Going the other way, Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.9 per cent as the yen climbed on a retreating dollar.

Spread betters also pointed to a hesitant start for European bourses, with the UK flat and German stocks a touch lower.

Wall Street had overcome its brief wobble to end Wednesday firmer. The Dow added 0.5 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.28 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.21 per cent.

Health stocks were not so lucky after Trump said pharmaceutical companies were “getting away with murder” by charging high prices.

The S&P 500 healthcare index lost one per cent, while the Nasdaq biotechnology index sank 2.96 per cent.

Trump’s first news conference since the Nov. 8 election contained no details on tax cuts and infrastructure spending, two factors that had fuelled the five-week rally in stocks and a selloff in global bond markets.

The uncertainty about what policies will actually be pursued has seen yields on 10-year Treasury notes rally from a 2.64 per cent peak over the last month to stand at 2.334 per cent on Thursday.

The U.S. dollar, likewise, has had to surrender some of its gains in the last week or so. Wednesday’s session was especially volatile with the dollar rallying hard into the Trump event, only to recoil at his vagueness on policy.

The dollar index dipped 0.3 per cent to 101.520 on Thursday, having been as high as 102.950 at one stage overnight.

The euro had rallied to 1.0602 dollars from a trough of 1.0454 dollars, while the dollar lapsed to 114.76 yen from a top of 116.87.

Sterling also bounced from a 10-week low of 1.2048 dollars to reach 1.2203 dollars.

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