China announces fresh measures to boost bank lending, boosting stocks
US equities were mixed-to-positive overnight, with the S&P 500 notching another all-time high amid solid gains in individual stocks, including United Airlines and Procter & Gamble in the aftermath of their latest profit reports. The S&P 500 gained 0.29%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.43%. Bucking the trend, the Dow Jones gave up 0.25%, weighed by a sharp drop for 3M as the company’s guidance came in below expectations. Meanwhile, Netflix shares surged 8.6% in extended trading after the company reported its subscriber count reached a new record in the fourth quarter.
In Asia, stocks saw mixed dynamics as well, with Hong Kong leading the gains following reports Alibaba’s co-founders had bought huge stakes in the firm. Also, investors cheered the news that China announced fresh measures to boost bank lending. The Hang Seng rallied 3.56% as Alibaba jumped nearly 8%. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China said it would next month lower the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve. The Shanghai Composite index gained 1.80% during the session. Elsewhere, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gave up 0.81% while South Korean Kospi shed 0.36%.
European equity markets opened in positive territory on Wednesday even as the Ifo Institute warned that the German economy will grow less than expected this year. On the positive side, PMI data showed improved activity in the Eurozone in January. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was 0.8% higher in early deals, led by tech stocks. In individual stocks, shares of Siemens Energy rallied 11% after the release of stronger-than-expected first-quarter results. US stock index futures were trading higher in early pre-market deals.
In currencies, the US dollar saw a solid retreat on Wednesday amid some profit-taking as positive risk sentiment weighed the safe-haven currency. After peaking at mid-December highs around 103.80 yesterday, the USD index retreated back to the 103.00 figure that remains in the market focus. A failure to hold above this level would pave the way to a deeper retreat in the near term. In a wider picture, however, the buck remains relatively upbeat as March rate-cut expectations continue to ebb amid strong economic data in combination with hawkish hints from Fed officials.