Global stock markets rose Friday, with sentiment boosted by a surprise decision by Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to hold talks, and strong US jobs data providing Wall Street with an extra kick.
However, uncertainty surrounding US President Trump’s tariffs plans and fears of a trade war kept a lid on gains, dealers said.
The agreement by Trump and North Korean leader Kim to hold talks “boosted risk sentiment… encouraging investors to buy into riskier assets such as shares”, noted Fiona Cincotta, senior market analyst at traders City Index.
US stocks opened higher after news that the American economy generated 313,000 new non-farm jobs in February, more than in any month over the past year, compared with economists’ forecasts of around 205,000.
“US stocks are nicely higher in early action, with a much stronger-than-expected rise in February job growth being met with a subdued rise in wage growth to bolster economic optimism and keep inflation concerns in check,” analysts at the Charles Schwab brokerage said.
South Korea, where the main stocks index closed up 1.1 percent Friday, said the two leaders would hold an unprecedented summit by the end of May, raising hopes they can broker an agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme that has fuelled tensions on the peninsula.
Hopes that the two could reach some sort of agreement also led to a plunge in the yen, which is considered a go-to safe currency in times of volatility and uncertainty. The dollar jumped to its highest level in a week against the Japanese unit.
On Thursday, Trump signed off on controversial tariffs for steel and aluminium imports, which have been met with anger across the world and from within his own Republican party, while raising the spectre of a global trade war.
He said Mexico and Canada had been exempted from the levies while they held talks on a new trilateral free-trade agreement, and invited other countries to discuss carve-outs.
However, analysts warned the issue could still blow up down the road and dealers remain on edge on concerns over a possible trade war, which sparked a global sell-off last week.
In other market movement on Friday, bitcoin hit a near one-month low.
– Key figures around 1435 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,212.66 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,331.39
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,271.92
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,418.73
New York – Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 25,047.00
Seoul – KOSPI: UP 1.1 percent at 2,459.45 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 21,469.20 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 30,996.21 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,307.17 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2300 from $1.2312 at 2150 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3847 from $1.3811
Dollar/yen: UP at 106.91 yen from 106.12 yen
Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 98 cents at $64.59 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 83 cents at $60.95