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Stimulus optimism boosts stocks, eases pressure on bonds

By Tom Wilson and Ritvik Carvalho
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Stimulus optimism boosts stocks, eases pressure on bonds

A trader from BGC, a global brokerage company in London's Canary Wharf financial centre reacts during trading

By Tom Wilson and Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) - World stock markets rose on Monday on signs that major economies would look to prop up stalling growth with fresh stimulus measures, easing pressure on bonds and dampening demand for perceived safe-havens such as gold.

Hopes of government action to stave off fears of recession - triggered by an inversion in the U.S. bond yield curve - grew as China's central bank unveiled interest rate reforms expected to lower corporate borrowing costs.

The prospect of Germany's coalition government ditching its balanced budget rule to take on new debt and launch stimulus steps also helped the mood, after boosting Wall Street shares on Friday.

Berlin could make available up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of extra spending, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, adding that Germany has the fiscal strength to counter any future economic crisis "with full force".

MSCI's world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS>, which follows shares in 47 countries, gained 0.4%, powered by a 1% gain for the pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX>. Bourses in London <.FTSE>, Frankfurt and Paris all registered gains of more than 1%.

The optimism was set to spread to Wall Street, too, where futures gauges <EScv1> <NQcv1> were pointing to gains of between 0.9%-1%.

Earlier in the day, the People's Bank of China's interest rate reforms - which it is said would help steer borrowing costs lower for companies and support a slowing economy - helped stocks in Shanghai <.SSEC> rise 2.1%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> gained 1.1%.

Yet even as signs that major economies would act to support growth emboldened investors, some market players cautioned that the boost to markets from expectations of stimulus was fragile.

"You have just got a little bit of portfolio readjustment, a resetting of expectations. The big question is whether it can last," said Michael Hewson, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. "Talking about fiscal stimulus in Germany is one thing, doing it is something else."

As investors tiptoed back to riskier assets, gold <XAU=> fell as much as 1% to $1,496.70 per ounce, with U.S. futures for the precious metal <GCcv1> also down.

The Japanese yen, another safe haven that benefits in times of stress, lost 0.2% to last trade at 106.57 to the dollar.

The dollar index <.DXY,>, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, was marginally higher in Europe at 98.179, close to a two-week high reached on Friday.


Graphic: World forex rates in 2019 - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-CURRENCIES-PERFORMANCE/0100301V041/index.html


Investors are focused on the annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will speak at the symposium on Friday.

Analysts think Powell's remarks will be aimed at reassuring nervous markets that the Fed will keep its easing stance.

"Powell's speech will set the stage for, at the minimum, a 25 basis points rate cut at the September meeting, stressing that quantitative tightening is over and stressing that the committee's bias is now back in accommodation mode," said Elsa Lignos, global head of FX strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

The shift toward appetite for riskier assets played out in bond markets, too.

Benchmark government debt in the euro zone rose off record lows, with Germany's 10-year bond yield steady at -0.69% <DE10YT=RR>. Its 30-year bond yields also gained.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield <US10YT=RR> stood at 1.6097%, having pulled away from a three-year trough marked last week as fears of a global slowdown panicked markets.

In commodity markets, crude oil prices rose after an attack on a Saudi oil facility by Yemeni separatists on Saturday, with traders also looking for signs that Sino-U.S. trade tensions could ease.

Brent crude <LCOc1> was 0.3% higher, at $58.81 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures <CLc1> were up 0.5%, at $55.12 a barrel.


(Reporting by Tom Wilson; additional reporting by Saikat Chatterjee in London; Editing by Gareth Jones)