European stocks reverse losses but markets wary over growth

October 13
8:59 AM 2014

European stocks reversed early losses on Monday as airline shares gained after crude oil prices fell to near a four-year low, though broad dollar weakness and a jump in gold signaled investor concern over global economic health.

Stocks opened the week on a negative note. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS lost 0.5 percent.

Chinese trade data eased fears of slowdown in the world's second-largest economy, showing exports grew 15.4 percent year-on-year in September and exports rose 6 percent in value, both ahead of market expectations. But broader concerns about global growth remained.

European shares opened lower but investors found solace in the expected impact of cheaper oil on airlines. Germany's Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) rose 3.3 percent and Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) were up 3.8 percent. This helped lift the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 0.3 percent, though some saw bargains after a fall of about 8 percent since mid-September.

"The sell-off in global stocks and crude prices has clearly been flow-driven, and such a move brings good buying opportunities for long-term investors like us," said Evan Bauman, a portfolio manager at ClearBridge Investments, which has $36 billion in assets under management.

"We've been holding cash in the past few months, about 13-14 percent of the portfolio, expecting a pull-back. With the market's recent retreat, we've been putting a bit of this money back to work."

Wall Street looked set to open higher, with S&P e-mini stock index futures ESc1 up 0.4 percent. U.S. bond markets are closed for the Columbus Day holiday.

The MSCI All-Country World index .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.2 percent. It had earlier dropped to a seven-month low and turned negative for the year.

Investors have been cutting their exposure to riskier assets on worries about the effect of an end to U.S. Federal Reserve's bond-buying stimulus later this month, mounting risks of recession in the euro zone and a floundering Japanese economy.

The IMF's member countries called on Saturday for bold action to bolster the economic recovery.

The Fund last week cut its global growth forecast for the third time this year.

The euro zone, without growth and flirting with deflation, faces the prospect of recession in its economic powerhouse, Germany. Adding to the low mood, ratings agency Standard & Poor's revised on Friday France's credit outlook to negative and cut Finland's triple-A rating to AA+.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies was down 0.5 percent .DXY. The Japanese yen, often sought as a safe haven in uncertain times, gained 0.3 percent to 107.37 to the dollar JPY= and the euro EUR= rose by a similar amount to $1.2688.

"We look for further yen upside against the dollar in coming weeks, as U.S. (interest) rates are likely to adjust near-term lower," said Petr Krpata, currency strategist at ING.


A combination of abundant supply and concerns about global demand has crushed crude oil prices in recent weeks. Brent crude futures for November LCOc1 last traded at $88.14 yen, having touched $87.74 in Asian trade, its lowest since December 2010, although the Chinese trade data helped pare losses.

Kuwait said OPEC was unlikely to cut production to support prices, while Saudi Arabia has privately told oil market participants it could be comfortable with $80 for oil.

"Judging by the latest comments from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, we expect more near-term downside ahead for oil prices amidst the ongoing global growth scare," said Gordon Kwan, head of oil and gas research at Nomura.

Spot gold XAU= rose to a near four-week high of $1,237.30 an ounce and last stood at $1,227.90, up 0.4 percent.

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