LONDON, Oct 2 — European stock markets climbed today, helped by solid gains on the Milan index as investors looked beyond a credit downgrade for Italy, which has told Brussels it will stick to a controversial budget.
The dollar rose against major rivals, while oil prices edged higher, as investors tracked geopolitical tensions, notably in response to the killing of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
“Moody’s have downgraded Italy’s credit rating to one notch above junk status, but the agency lifted its outlook to stable from negative, so investors aren’t afraid of another downgrade in the near-term,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
Around 1045 GMT, the Milan FTSE MIB index was up 0.8 per cent, although steam had been taken out of an initial rally.
Moody’s ratings agency on Friday downgrading Italy on concerns about its populist government’s plans to increase public spending, a move heavily criticised by the European Union.
The downgrade — from Baa2 to Baa3 with a stable outlook — is the latest move by international financial watchdogs sounding the alarm over Italy’s economic health.
Italy’s populist coalition today told the European Union that it would stick to its high-spending draft budget but will scrupulously avoid going over its own debt and deficit limits.
“The figure of 2.4 per cent (deficit to GDP ratio in 2019) is a ceiling that we have solemnly undertaken to respect,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told journalists after the coalition sent its pledge in a letter to the EU.
Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG trading group, noted that “Italian fears appear to be easing… with Treasury yields drifting lower, while under pressure stocks such as the banks have started to come back into favour”.
Earlier today, most Asian stock markets rose, with Shanghai surging more than four per cent to build on a rally at the end of last week — though traders remain cautious over China-US trade tensions.
Tokyo reversed early losses to end 0.4-per cent higher, while Sydney fell.
While trade unrest simmers, investors are considering other brewing problems, including the US saying it will pull out of a decades-old nuclear treaty with Russia.
Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov warned withdrawal “would be a very dangerous step”.
Markets meanwhile continue to track international pressure on Saudi Arabia after the kingdom admitted that a journalist critical of Riyadh had been killed at its Istanbul consulate.
Saudi Arabia on Monday said it had no plans to repeat its harsh 1973 oil embargo, even as relations with the West sour following the death of Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi.
Key figures around 1045 GMT —
Milan — FTSE MIB: UP 0.8 per cent at 19,228.87 points
London — FTSE 100: UP 0.7 per cent at 7,099.47
Frankfurt — DAX 30: UP 0.6 per cent at 11,618.62
Paris — CAC 40: UP 0.4 per cent at 5,102.32
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 per cent at 3,221.81
Shanghai — Composite: UP 4.1 per cent at 2,654.88 (close)
Tokyo — Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 per cent at 22,614.82 (close)
Hong Kong — Hang Seng: UP 2.3 per cent at 26,153.15 (close)
New York — Dow Jones: UP 0.3 per cent at 25,444.34 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.1498 from US$1.1511 at 2100 GMT on Friday
Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3022 from US$1.3066
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.84 from 112.50 yen
Oil — Brent Crude: UP 24 cents at US$80.02 per barrel
Oil — West Texas Intermediate: UP 17 cents at US$69.45 — AFP
Source: The Malay Mail Online