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Stocks rise as investors brace for more trade war turbulence

By JOE McDONALDAugust 8, 2019
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A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Asian stocks rebounded Thursday after Wall Street eked out a gain following volatility fueled by concern fallout from the U.S.-Chinese trade war will spread. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Asian stocks rebounded Thursday after Wall Street eked out a gain following volatility fueled by concern fallout from the U.S.-Chinese trade war will spread. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

BEIJING (AP) — Stock prices rose Thursday as investors braced for the next development in the U.S.-Chinese trade war, which has caused volatility in world markets this week, and after Beijing reported a rise in exports, easing some concerns about its economic slowdown.

Markets in Europe advanced after indexes in Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong closed higher, recovering some of their losses after three days of anxiety over the trade dispute and Chinese yuan’s decline.

Investors were also rattled Wednesday by a wave of interest rate cuts by central banks in India, Thailand and New Zealand. Those added to rate cuts since May in Australia, South Korea and the Philippines and reflect fear that U.S.-Chinese trade tension will dent global economic growth.

“Trade anxiety remains high,” Alfonso Esparza of Oanda said in a report.

London’s FTSE 100 was up 0.1% at 7,207 and Germany’s DAX gained 0.7% to 11,730. France’s CAC 40 rose 1.1% to 5,324.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 0.2%. That for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9% to 2,794.55 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was 0.4% higher at 20,593.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5% to 26,120.77 and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.6% to 1,920.61.

Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 was 0.7% higher at 6,568.10 and India’s Sensex rose 1.2% to 37,146.63. Markets in Taiwan, New Zealand and Southeast Asia also advanced.

China reported Thursday that its total exports rose 3.3% over a year earlier, rebounding from June’s 1.3% contraction. Imports shrank 5.6%, an improvement over the previous month’s 7.3% decline. The figures were largely better than expected.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 recovered from a 2% drop during the day to close with a 0.1% gain, restoring some confidence among investors, though sentiment remains fragile.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump rattled markets when he promised to impose 10% tariffs on Sept. 1 on all Chinese imports that haven’t already been hit with tariffs of 25%. China struck back on Monday, allowing its yuan to weaken against the dollar. The weaker currency negates some of the effects of the U.S. tariffs but creates the risk that countries could start to competitively weaken their currencies, destabilizing markets and the economy.

The yuan fell further Tuesday and Wednesday, but investors were encouraged by Chinese central bank promises the decline wouldn’t continue and the exchange rate would be kept stable.

On Thursday, the yuan strengthened slightly to 7.0460 to the dollar from 7.0597 late Wednesday. But it stayed below the politically sensitive level of seven to the U.S. currency that it broke through on Monday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 98 cents to $52.07 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $2.54 on Wednesday to close at $51.09. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 67 cents per barrel in London to $56.90. It dropped $2.71 the previous session to $56.23.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 105.97 yen from Wednesday’s 106.26 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1197 from $1.1200.

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