European shares lift partly on sentiment about US-China comments

London — European shares opened higher on Tuesday, with market sentiment propped up by the US and China saying they are still committed to their phase 1 trade deal, and some increased optimism about Covid-19 vaccine development.

After the Stoxx 600 saw its biggest daily gain in almost two weeks on Monday, the bullish mood continued throughout the New York and Asian sessions.

Top US and Chinese officials had a phone call in which they reaffirmed their commitment to the phase 1 trade deal agreed on in January, in a positive sign after months of disputes over the Covid-19 pandemic, China’s national security law and Chinese technology firms.

The news lifted Asian currencies and stocks, with the Chinese yuan firming slightly overnight.

Market sentiment was also buoyed by a Financial Times report that the US government was considering fast-tracking an experimental vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, to make it ready before the November elections.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca denied the company had discussed an emergency use authorisation for its potential vaccine with the US government.

The director of the Oxford Vaccine Group said on Tuesday that the vaccine in development could be put before regulators in 2020.

European share indexes opened higher, with the Stoxx 600 up 0.4% and London’s FTSE 100 up 0.3% at 8.03m GMT.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was up 0.2%. MSCI’s main European Index was up 0.7%.

Vaccine treatment

“It has been suggested that yesterday’s rally was as a result of optimism over a new vaccine treatment being fast tracked by October; however, the reality is that anyone with an ounce of common sense will know that this outcome is highly unlikely to happen,” wrote Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

“Yesterday’s rebound was probably driven by nothing more than a lack of bad news, fear of missing out and expectations of continued central bank monetary stimulus,” he said.

Hewson added that the rebound in US stocks could be called “unbalanced” as it is being driven by a relatively small group of big technology companies.

The dollar index fell gradually overnight, down 0.2% at 93.061 by 8.03am GMT, while the euro was up 0.4% at $1.18325.

Eurozone bond yields rose for the second day in a row, with the benchmark 10-year German Bund yield at -0.468%.

Germany’s final second quarter GDP was revised slightly upwards to a 9.7% contraction in April, May and June, up from 10.1%.

This record decline is much stronger than in the financial crisis more than a decade ago, and is the sharpest fall since Germany began to record quarterly GDP calculations in 1970.

Oil prices were mixed, with Brent crude oil futures up 0.3% at $45.25 a barrel by 8.06am GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.2%, at $42.55 a barrel.

Market participants are looking ahead to the US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s address at the Jackson Hole symposium — his first public appearance since the central bank’s policy meeting in late July.

Investors have been eagerly awaiting details on possible changes to how the Fed targets inflation that, in the current environment, could mean the Fed sticks with aggressive stimulus measures longer than under its previous rubric.

Markets seemed indifferent to news of the first documented instance of coronavirus reinfection in a human. A Hong Kong man who recovered from Covid-19 was infected again four-and-a-half months later, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said on Monday.

Elsewhere, France said it will require travellers entering the country from the UK to self-certify that they are not suffering coronavirus symptoms or have been in contact with a confirmed case within 14 days preceding travel.