Worldwide stocks start year on a high

Asian stocks hit new heights on Wednesday, according to MSCI'S index of global markets. (Reuters)
Updated 03 January 2018
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Worldwide stocks start year on a high

LONDON: Worldwide stocks hit new highs on Wednesday as European markets continued a strong start to the year, suggesting 2018 will be another year of synchronized growth for global markets — led by a robust European economy.
MSCI’s index of global stocks, MIWD — which tracks shares across 47 countries, had jumped to its biggest one-day gain in more than two weeks on Tuesday, after having its best 12 months since 2009 in 2017.
The pan-European stock index sat 0.2 percent higher following considerable gains for their Asian and US counterparts overnight as manufacturing surveys pointed to a strong start for the European economy.
The single currency euro was holding steady near the four-month high of $1.2081 hit on Tuesday.
“Investors have woken up in the new year and looked forward to another firm year for global growth with very muted downside risk,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw. But he urged caution about getting too excited given we are only in the first two trading days of the new year.
“The converse is the sell-off in bond markets: the idea that inflation pressures may be firmer than expected and central banks could take a slightly more aggressive approach than previously thought,” Shaw added.
ECB rate-setter Ewald Nowotny told the German media that the European Central Bank (ECB) may end its stimulus program this year if the euro zone economy continues to grow strongly.
Earlier in the session, Asian stocks struck a range of new peaks: a record high for stocks in the Philippines, a 24-year top for Thailand and a decade-high for Hong Kong. MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, MIAP, rose 0.4 percent, having jumped 1.4 percent on Tuesday in its best performance since last March.
This came after Wall Street started the new year as it ended the old, scoring another set of record closing peaks. The Dow .DJI rose 0.42 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.83 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 1.5 percent. The gains in riskier assets came as industry surveys from India to Germany to Canada showed quickening activity.
“The breadth of the recovery is extraordinary,” said Deutsche Bank macro strategist Alan Ruskin, noting that of 31 countries covered, only three failed to show growth while all the largest manufacturing sectors improved.
Oil prices surged again, inching toward two-and-a-half year highs hit on Tuesday as strong demand and ongoing efforts led by OPEC and Russia to curb production tightened the market. Brent crude futures LCOc1 was up 0.6 percent at $67 a barrel, while US crude futures CLc1 shot up 0.8 percent to $60.87 a barrel.


Deals worth more than $50bn signed at KSA Future Investment Initiative

Updated 29 min 42 sec ago
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Deals worth more than $50bn signed at KSA Future Investment Initiative

RIYADH: At least 25 deals worth more than $50 billion have been signed at Future Investment Initiative (FII) in Riyadh.
The contracts struck on the first day of the event included what were described as 12 “mega deals.”

Among the projects announced on Tuesday in front of an audience of international bankers, investors and thought leaders, was the second phase of Haramain high-speed railway. 
The deals were struck across the energy and transportation sectors despite the boycott of the event by several company chiefs following the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey earlier this month.
A number of major public transport projects, including the development of the Saudi Land Bridge project, a rail line connecting the Red Sea coast with Riyadh, were among the raft of deals signed.

Such large-scale infrastructure projects form a key part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 blueprint for economic and social diversifcation. It aims to reduce the country’s historical reliance on oil and gas revenues by investing in new industries that will also provide employment for the Kingdom’s youthful population.
Other deals were struck on Tuesday with Trafigura, Total, Hyundai, Norinco, Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.
Oil giant Saudi Aramco signed 15 initial agreements worth $34 billion.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanné, told the gathering that the French oil and gas producer would announce a retail network in the Kingdom with Saudi Aramco.
The $10 billion Russian Direct Investment Fund also had a large presence at the event, led by Kirill Dmitriev.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the main backer of the event, is driving the Kingdom’s economic reform agenda.
Managing director Yasir Al-Rumayyan said that the fund had invested in 50 or 60 firms via SoftBank Group’s Vision Fund and would bring most of those businesses to the Kingdom. PIF has committed to invest $45 billion in the Vision Fund.
The FII event, which debuted in the Kingdom last year, concludes on Thursday.