Stocks, oil edge up as China relaxes rules

Samuel IndykReuters
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is down almost four per cent this month.
Camera IconMSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is down almost four per cent this month. Credit: AP

Global shares have moved into positive territory while oil prices firmed following China's decision to ease quarantine requirements for international arrivals that raised hopes for stronger growth and a revival in demand for commodities.

China slashed the quarantine time for inbound travellers by half in a major easing of one of the world's strictest COVID-19 curbs, which have deterred travel in and out of the country since 2020.

Asian shares rose after the announcement and European stocks opened firmly in the green which sent the MSCI's benchmark for global stocks into positive territory and on track for its fourth consecutive daily gain.

China's strict zero-COVID regulations have been a drag on activity in the world's number two economy, but an easing of travel restrictions and reopening of major cities from lockdowns boost optimism that growth can get back on track.

"This is a good step forward," said Hani Redha, multi asset portfolio manager at PineBridge Investments.

"It's not enough to lead to a very robust recovery, but it's definitely going to be positive incrementally."

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares rose 0.3 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng reversed earlier losses to rise 0.7 per cent and China's CSI 300 Index gained over 1 per cent. China's tourism stocks gained over 5.5 per cent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.6 per cent, boosted by oil & gas and mining stocks but the outlook for developed market stocks remains challenging as central banks attempt to balance stubbornly high inflation with slowing growth.

"Equity markets will not be out of the woods until central banks shift their rhetoric to a less hawkish stance," said Salman Baig, portfolio manager, cross asset solutions, at Unigestion

"Unfortunately for many investors, such a pivot will likely not happen until after the economy has slowed down sufficiently to bring inflation on a sustainably downward path."

The European Central Bank's Forum on Central Banking in Sintra continued on Tuesday with a focus on a speech from ECB President Christine Lagarde.

Lagarde said the ECB will move gradually when it begins raising rates but with the option to act decisively on any deterioration in medium-term inflation, especially if there are signs of a de-anchoring of inflation expectations.

Euro zone government bond yields held near their highs after Lagarde's comments, with Germany's 10-year yield, the benchmark for the bloc, up 8 basis points at 1.63 per cent.

The euro was little changed against the dollar following Lagarde's initial comments, while China's offshore yuan rose 0.1 per cent after Beijing's measures to ease travel restrictions.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, was little changed at 103.97.

Oil prices swung higher after China eased quarantine rules, with focus already on tight supply as G7 leaders agreed to study placing price caps on imports of Russian oil and gas.

US crude rose 1.41 per cent to $111.08 a barrel. Brent crude jumped 1.3 per cent to $116.59 per barrel.

"A seam of tight supply news bolstered the (oil) market," said analysts at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. "Political unrest might curtail supply from a couple of second-tier producers, Ecuador and Libya. And then there's the G7's proposed price cap on Russian oil."

Gold was 0.2 per cent higher with the spot price trading at $1,827 per ounce.

Bitcoin rose 0.8 per cent, trading at $20,870 after falling as low as $17,588.88 earlier this month.

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