Global stocks touch record highs over easing U.S.-Iranian tensions



Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.43% while Australian stocks rallied 0.67% to a record high.

The world’s shares hit a record high on Friday as a relief over de-escalation of U.S.-Iranian tensions quickly prompted investors to bet on faster global growth, especially in the technology sector. MSCI’s broadest gauge of the world’s stocks in 49 countries rose a tad to hit an all-time high and its index on Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.18%. Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.43% while Australian stocks rallied 0.67% to a record high.

That followed record-setting in the pan-regional STOXX 600 index in Europe and the three major stock indexes on Wall Street. The S&P 500 gained 0.67%, with its technology sector rising more than 1%. Apple gained 2.1%, helped by news that the sales of its iPhones in China in December jumped more than 18% year on year. Investors welcomed the report as a prelude to the upcoming visit by China’s Vice Premier Liu He, head of the country’s negotiation team in Sino-U.S. trade talks, to Washington next week to sign a trade deal with the United States.

Liu will visit Washington on Jan. 13-15 and U.S. President Donald Trump has said the so-called phase one deal will be signed on Jan. 15. “We will have a symbolic event of Sino-U.S. dialogue. Given the current strength of the market, it is hard not to expect this rally to continue for the time being,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo.

Global shares quickly erased losses that followed missile attacks from Iran targeting U.S. forces in Iraq, as the two countries moved to defuse the tension. Waning worries about all-out war in the Middle East pushed down gold, safe-harbour currencies and oil. Gold eased off to $1,552.80 per ounce from a seven-year high of $1,610.90 hit right after Iran’s missile attack on Wednesday.

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar traded at 109.52 yen , having hit a two-week high of 109.58 in U.S. trade on Thursday. The euro stood little changed at $1.1105, having fallen to $1.10915 in the U.S. trade, its lowest in about two weeks.

Oil prices were sharply lower from their highs hit in the wake of Iran’s missile attack. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell to as low as $58.66 per barrel on Thursday and last stood at $59.51, down slightly on the day, compared to Wednesday’s peak of $65.65.

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