Tech Surges, Markets Optimistic, Shutdown-Deal In Sight

US indices were higher on the news although the gains were capped.
Thomas Hughes
Hong Kong display stock market charts

Asian Markets Up On Tech, Japan Leads

Asian equities markets were up on strong gains in tech. The move was driven over growing optimism trade talks between the US and China will bear fruit. The Japanese Nikkei led with a gain of 2.61% with tech in the lead. Shares of Fast Retailing and Renesas Electronics were today’s top performers in Japan. Fast Retailing jumped 3.0% while Renesas Electronics surged more than 16%.

The Shang Hai Composite and Hang Seng were also both trading higher although gains in those markets were more reserved at 0.68% and 0.10%. The Australian ASX closed with a small gain as well, up 0.30%, while the Kospi advanced 0.45%.

In stock news, the Korean-based Samsung and SK Hynix were among today’s top performers with gains greater than 2.30%. Both indices are key to the global tech supply chain and sensitive to trade-related news.  LG Electronics, another heavy-weight in tech, led the market with an advance of 3.75%.

Europe Up On Rising Optimism

European indices were mostly higher in midday trading as a rising wave of optimism supported equities prices. The German Dax was in the lead with a gain near 1.10% with the CAC not far behind. The UK FTSE 100 was trading near the flat line despite reassuring news on Brexit.

Theresa May has returned from her trip to Brussels and says Parliament will be able to vote on the Brexit deal by February 26th. In the meantime, she will be working hard with the EU on rewording key issues so they are more palatable for UK lawmakers.

In stock news, shares of Michelin jumped more than 10% after the company issued positive guidance for 2019. Michelin now joins a host of international businesses able to profit despite depressed global trade, evidence global economic expansion is still assured for this year. Shares of Randstad, a Dutch-based staffing company, reported better than expected 4th quarter earnings and says a slowdown in hiring seen at the end of last year has not carried into 2019.

Government Shutdown Averted, Maybe

The Congressional bi-partisan commission on spending and immigration has reached a deal that would avoid a government shutdown. The deal includes money, $1.4 billion, for “physical barriers along the border” but not a wall. The question now is if President Trump will sign the bill or if he’ll push for more money or firmer wording.

US indices were higher on the news although the gains were capped. The Dow Jones Industrial Average led the market with a gain near 0.80% but the tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite and broad-market S&P 500 were not far behind. While the shutdown news is good the bill isn’t signed yet and there are still trade-related issued at hand. The meeting between Mnuchin, Lighthizer and China’s top trade officials is expected to lead to another step in the process but there is no guarantee it will happen.

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