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Global stocks rise, shrugging off US shutdown fears

NEW YORK: Global stock markets rose on Friday, with major Wall Street indices ending at all-time records, as investors shrugged off a looming shutdown of the US government.

The S&P and Nasdaq both finished at all-time highs, while the Dow also gained. Leading bourses in Europe and Asia advanced, while the dollar recovered some of its losses from the prior session against the euro.

“Investors don't appear particularly bothered about the prospect of a government shutdown, with the assumption being that (a temporary spending bill) will eventually be signed and any economic impact will be minor or non-existent,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at trading firm OANDA.

Congressional Democratic leaders met with President Donald Trump at the White House early Friday afternoon to try to avert a shutdown as a midnight deadline loomed for the Republican-controlled Senate to approve a new funding bill.

Analysts say a government shutdown could damage the economy, particularly sectors that do extensive business with the government and especially if it is prolonged.

But most market watchers do not expect that to happen.

“I think the politicians themselves realize it's probably not in anybody's interest to have this be a long-term shutdown,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist of TD Ameritrade.

“The market realizes it's a short-term thing and we're not going to stay shut down forever.”

Kinahan said investors are fixated much more on corporate earnings reports, which have been good so far, although the bulk of major companies have yet to report.

Fitch Ratings said a shutdown in itself would not impact the US government's top rating, but could further destabilize budget policymaking and “lead to brinkmanship” over raising the debt level before the US Treasury runs out of extraordinary measures to pay the government's bills in March or April.

In Europe, Frankfurt pushed 1.2% higher, while London managed to break a four-day losing streak despite poor UK retail sales data.

IG analyst Joshua Mahony said the “disappointing set of retail sales figures should be put in the context of shifting shopping habits”.

British retail sales slid 1.5% in December from the previous month after consumers had brought forward their Christmas shopping, official data showed.

Retail sales had jumped by 1.0% in November, boosted by Black Friday price reductions, the Office for National Statistics said.

Asian markets mostly rose Friday after another positive week across trading floors.

Key figures around 2200 GMT

New York – DOW: UP 0.2% at 26,071.72 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.4% at 2,810.30 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.6% to 7,336.38 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4% at 7,730.79 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.2% at 13,434.45 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.6% at 5,526.51 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8% at 3,648.91

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2% at 23,808.06 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.4% at 32,254.89 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4% at 3,487.86 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at 1.2225 from US$1.2243 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at US$1.3860 from US$1.3898

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.77 yen from 111.02 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 70 cents at US$68.61 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 58 cents at US$63.37 per barrel

RM1 = US$3.94

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KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit broke out of its recent range-bound trading to close higher against the US dollar today on renewed buying interest, supported by the positive performance in crude oil prices.

At 6pm, the local note finished at 3.9520/9560 against the greenback from 3.9540/9590 on Tuesday.

A dealer said the ringgit bucked the trend of emerging currencies, which mostly slipped as the dollar rebounded, mainly due to the country's status as an oil producing country.

Oil prices remained well supported Wednesday on the back of tightening supply and strong global demand.

Towards the closing of Asian trading hour, the benchmark Brent crude futures advanced 8% to US$69.23 a barrel from its previous close.

“Both Brent and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures hit three-year highs or the highest since December 2014 early this week and have not shown a downward correction signal.

“The ringgit may get better and test its next support at 3.90 amid positive oil price outlook and as market will soon shift on trading idea based on Bank Negara Malaysia's policy normalisation, which is again ringgit positive,” he added.

The domestic note however traded mixed against a basket of major currencies.

It was almost unchanged against the Singapore dollar at 2.9867/9906 from Tuesday's 2.9864/9909, and advanced against the Japanese yen to 3.5674/5720 from 3.5715/5770 yesterday.

The ringgit eased against the British pound to 5.4506/4577 from 5.4415/4496 and was lower against the euro at 4.8388/8441 from 4.8369/8446. — Bernama