Global stock markets remained firm Tuesday as fears over an escalation in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea continued to subside even though the United Nations slapped further sanctions on Pyongyang.
KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.6 percent at 12,550 while the CAC 40 in France was 0.7 percent higher at 5,213. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down however, trading 0.2 percent lower at 7,396, with British stocks suffering from a big rise in the value of the pound. U.S. stocks were poised open at or near record highs, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.3 percent.
NORTH KOREA: Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been on investors’ minds recently. North Korea observed the 69th anniversary of its founding, but did not test another intercontinental ballistic missile, as South Korea’s government had warned it might.
ANALYST TAKE: “Once again we find ourselves in a scenario in which no news is good news and while underlying risks remain, the longer we go without another nuclear or missile test, the more positive investors will become,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. “The only problem with this is that, with the UN having just agreed on new sanctions against North Korea — spearheaded by the U.S. — I wonder how long we will have to wait for an act of provocation in response.”
IRMA FEARS: Irma wreaked havoc along the entire Florida peninsula and was still dropping rain and causing power outages and some damage around the Southeast. But the storm had weakened considerably from its peak, relieving investors’ worries. Insurers and travel companies did well in U.S. markets Monday, while home improvement stocks declined on expectations of less business from storm repairs.
UK POUND: The pound jumped to its highest level in a year against the dollar after British inflation figures came in higher than anticipated. Official figures showed that inflation spiked up to 2.9 percent in the year to August, in a development that has stoked speculation the Bank of England may raise interest rates sooner than expected regardless of how the country’s Brexit discussions shape up in coming months. The pound was up 0.8 percent at $1.3268 in London trading. The pound’s rebound from its post-Brexit vote lows is potentially negative news, however, for British firms that have big business interests outside the U.K. And the money they make abroad will be worth less when it is brought back to the U.K. That helps explain why the FTSE 100 index of leading British firms, which is made up of main international companies like BP and Burberry, was a laggard.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 1.2 percent to finish at 19,776.62, as a weaker yen helped boost sentiment. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.6 percent at 5,746.40, while South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.3 percent to 2,365.47. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched down but was little changed at 27,944.98, while the Shanghai Composite gained nearly 0.1 percent to 3,379.49.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 16 cents to $48.23 a barrel, while Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 26 cents to $54.10 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.1930 while the dollar rose 0.4 percent to 109.83 yen.