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Global shares pause on inflation view as oil rises on Ukraine

Global shares pause on inflation view as oil rises on Ukraine 1

By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – Global shares were little changed on Wednesday, pausing after a six-day slump amid a mixed inflation picture, while supply concerns after Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine helped push oil prices higher.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a 0.5%-0.7% higher open on Wall Street.

Hawkish moves from the world’s top central banks in response to inflation have weighed on equity markets since the start of 2022, with the MSCI World Index down around 10%.

Data on Wednesday showed no let-up for Britain after inflation hit a 30-year high of 7%, although this came a day after a lower-than-expected U.S. print had given some traders cause to hope policy would be tightened more slowly.

At 1052 GMT, the MSCI World Index was flat at 689.97 points, weighed by falls across most leading European indexes, with the STOXX Europe 600 off its lows, down 0.3%, and Britain’s FTSE 100 just in the black, up 0.1%.

“Another month, another jump in inflation figures around the world,” said Oliver Blackbourn, portfolio manager at asset manager Janus Henderson.

“The increase in prices further ratchets up the pressure on the Bank of England to respond to dampen the squeeze on real incomes. However, fading growth forecasts show the danger to the economy from tightening too quickly or too far.”

Overnight in Asia, much weaker-than-expected import data from China weighed on the outlook, but added to views Beijing could ease policy further, helping MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climb 0.6%.

Japan also posted weak machinery orders data, although its stocks closed higher on the U.S. inflation data that had shown consumer prices rose by the most in 16-1/2 years in March as war in Ukraine boosted the cost of gasoline to record highs, although underlying inflation pressures moderated.

After the prior day’s fall, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose on Wednesday and was last at 2.7348%, compared to an over three-year peak of 2.836%, before the inflation data. The two year yield was 2.3953%.

In the euro zone, meanwhile, a key gauge of long-term inflation briefly breached 2.4% on Wednesday, above the European Central Bank’s 2% target ahead of its next meeting on Thursday.

In response, bond yields in the bloc climbed, with Germany’s 10-year yield at 0.810%.

Oil prices rose after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that on-and-off peace talks with Ukraine had hit a dead end, fuelling supply worries, with Brent crude futures up 1.5% at $106.23 a barrel

Corn futures were down 0.2% but still close to last month’s 11-year high. Gold bounced off its lows to trade up 0.5% at $1,976 an ounce.

In currency markets, the euro was last flat against the dollar, but just above a five-week low. The dollar index was up 0.1% against a basket of currencies. [FRX]

The New Zealand dollar was down 1.1% after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised interest rates by 50 basis points — its most aggressive hike in over two decades — but tempered its rate outlook.

The Bank of Canada meets later on Wednesday and is also expected to deliver a sharp hike.

(Additional reporting by Alun John; Editing by Kim Coghill, Alexander Smith and Chizu Nomiyama)

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