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G20 pledge offers respite for shares and euro

European shares show tentative recovery as G20 assurances seem to temporarily calm risk sentiment in global markets

Reuters, Friday 23 Sep 2011
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European shares inched up from 26-month lows on Friday and the euro rose after the G20 major economies pledged to preserve financial stability, but risk sentiment remained fragile on fears of renewed recession in the developed world.

The G20 pledge of action provided a respite for world stocks after they tumbled to their lowest level in 13 months on Thursday, hurt by the risk of new recessions in the United States and Europe and weaker economic data from China.

Metals prices bucked the trend, falling on worries that the gloomy economic outlook signalled lower industrial demand, and analysts said any G20-inspired market bounce would likely be short-lived.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.4 per cent, after dropping 4.7 per cent on Thursday.

"It is a relief rally and investors are just picking up some stocks on the cheap," Mark Priest, senior trader at ETX Capital said.

"I do not see how everything has changed overnight. Kick-starting the economy is easier said than done and it will take a lot more than what has been put on the table."

The tentative gains in Europe contrasted with falls in Asia, where the MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan fell 3 per cent to its lowest level since May 2010. This pulled the MSCI world equity index down 0.1 per cent.

The G20 statement came as finance ministers and central bankers met in Washington, under pressure from investors to show action in the face of rising stresses in the financial system.

Several European banks have seen their share prices tumble and their cost of funding rise as investors worried about their exposure to debt issued by Greece and other debt-heavy eurozone countries.

Global stocks as measured by MSCI's All-Country World Index are now in bear market territory - defined as a fall of 20 per cent or more - having fallen 23 per cent from their 2011 high in May.

The euro clawed off an 8-month low against the dollar, was up 0.4 per cent up at $1.3511 after the G20 pledge, and as the tentative recovery in riskier assets prompted some profit taking in the dollar.

The G20 also said the eurozone's rescue fund could be bolstered but traders and strategists said there was little that was new and the pledges needed to be followed up with action.

"I think there was some expectation in the market that they would signal concrete action or immediate coordinated steps but that language of their statement sticks very much to what we've heard from them in the past," said Todd Elmer, a currency strategist at Citi in Singapore.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see the slight bounce we have seen in the euro and other risky assets this morning start to unwind," he added.

 

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