LONDON (Reuters) – Concern about global trade and U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policies kept appetite for risky assets in check on Friday, setting world stocks on the path to a sluggish end to what will be their sixth straight month of gains.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump called the U.S. trade pact with South Korea “unacceptable” and said it would be targeted for renegotiation after his administration completed a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico.
Trump’s comments sent Seoul stocks (KS11) and the won <krw=> into reverse.
Global stocks (MIWO00000PUS) were steady, however, little changed on the day and holding near all-time highs and on track for a sixth straight month of gains.
Stock futures on Wall Street (ESc1) were up 0.1 percent, also near their highest ever levels.
Saturday marks Trump’s 100th day in office and his attacks on free trade and scepticism about his administration’s ability to see through a tax and spending campaign promises has dented some of the enthusiasm in markets that followed his election win.
“Trump is reaching the 100-day mark with nothing to show for it and these recent comments just coincide with that. They (the U.S. administration) are finding it hard to push through fiscal plans and all this rhetoric is probably related,” Kiran Kowshik, strategist at Unicredit (MI:CRDI).
EUROPE POWERING AHEAD
The mood on Europe, however, remains upbeat.
Euro zone bond yields rose across the board on Friday and the euro strengthened, rising 0.6 percent against the dollar <eur=> to $1.0944, as output data from several countries reaffirmed a picture of economic strength in the bloc.
At the same, inflation blew past expectations to hit a three-year high, keeping pressure on the European Central Bank to start dialing back its stimulus measures.
Regional banking shares (SX7P) added to recent gains.
Barclays (L:BARC) shares were an outlier, however, sliding 5 percent after disappointing investment banking results and weighing on the broader STOXX 600 (STOXX) index which fell 0.2 percent.
European stocks are still up more than 2 percent on the week. Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE:BAC) (BAML) noted that the $2.4 billion of inflows into European equity funds over the past week were the highest since December 2015.
“The hard data for equities is earnings — and they are powering ahead. Q1 earnings season is very strong and revisions trends are positive and broad-based,” said analysts at BAML, who forecast 15 percent earnings growth for European companies and a further 8 percent rally for the STOXX 600.
Healthy earnings, particularly from companies closely geared to economic growth, have underpinned the rally in global stocks, which have added nearly $5 trillion to their market value so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
In commodities, oil prices rose but were still on track for a second straight weekly loss on concerns that an OPEC-led production cut had failed to significantly tighten an oversupplied market.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude (CLc1) was at $49.43 per barrel at 0649 GMT, up 46 cents, or 0.94 percent, from its last close. WTI is still set for a small weekly loss and is around 8 percent below its April peak.
Brent crude (LCOc1) was at $51.91 per barrel, up 47 cents, or 0.91 percent. Brent is around 8.5 percent down from its April peak and is also on track for a second, albeit small, weekly decline[:]