Stocks, oil prices rise on China boost

LONDON (AFP/APP): Global stock markets and oil prices advanced Monday, helped by an easing of Covid lockdowns in the world’s second biggest economy China.
London’s stock market, reopening after a British public holiday to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, shrugged off news that embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Monday to face a confidence vote from MPs in his own Tory party.
Elsewhere, eurozone stocks climbed ahead of a European Central Bank meeting Thursday when the ECB is is set to draw a line under its massive bond-buying stimulus programme.
Wall Street ended last week in the red as news of larger-than-expected jobs creation in the United States gave the Federal Reserve room to continue hiking interest rates amid decades-high inflation.
Stocks “have started the week on a positive note buoyed by a strong US jobs report on Friday”, noted Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor. Traders took heart also from a wind-down of Covid containment measures in China that have crippled its economy for months.
With infections trending down in major cities including Shanghai and Beijing, authorities have allowed some sense of normality to return, raising hopes for a pick-up in consumer activity.
“Positive news around Chinese economic activity and cheaper equity valuations could offer value from a long-term investment perspective, but volatility will remain high in the short-term,” noted Diana Mousina, of AMP Capital.

Oil boost
Oil prices extended recent gains as a pledge by OPEC and other major producers to boost output fell short of what markets hoped for.
“Despite OPEC+’s increased output, prices could remain elevated driven by the EU partial ban on Russian imports, the easing of covid restrictions in China and peak driving season in the United States,” said Scholar.
With supplies tight, Saudi Arabia has raised the price of the oil it sells to Asia.
Adding to the upbeat mood were comments from US commerce chief Gina Raimondo that she was considering lifting tariffs on some goods from China to help in the battle against inflation.
In foreign exchange, the British pound was higher heading into the confidence vote on Johnson’s leadership.
“Markets have responded favourably to the news of the contest, with sterling appreciating,” noted Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“This appears to reflect the general principle that markets favour Conservative governments, and the chances of the Tories winning the next election likely will be higher under a new leader.”
Johnson’s public image has suffered in the past year, most notably over the “Partygate” controversy that saw him become the first serving UK prime minister found to have broken the law.
The Conservative government has come under pressure also from a cost-of-living crisis in Britain as UK inflation stands at the highest level in four decades, driven by surging oil and gas prices.

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