FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Staff
September 22, 2021
By Tom Wilson and Tom Westbrook
LONDON/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Stocks and riskier currencies found relief on Wednesday as market jitters around China Evergrande eased, with the embattled developer saying it could pay a coupon on one of its bonds.
The Euro STOXX 600 added as much as 0.8% in early trading, with London shares up 1.1% and Paris gaining 1.2%. Evergrande’s Frankfurt-listed shares jumped 15.1% after hitting multi-year lows a day earlier.
U.S. futures were set to gain 0.6%, with investors focused on the Federal Reserve’s policy decision due later in the day, with concern over an immediate announcement on tapering easing in recent weeks.
Global investors have worried over a possible default by China’s No. 2 property developer, with concerns about the spillover from a messy collapse upsetting markets this week.
Yet on Wednesday Evergrande’s main unit said it had settled interest payments due on Thursday on a yuan bond with investors.
The news sent benchmark bond yields higher, as well riskier currencies such as the Australian dollar and Chinese yuan, and kept a cap on the dollar. Still, traders were left with few details and Evergrande made no mention of dollar bond interest also due on Thursday.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 50 countries, eked out slim gains.
“This could be a bit of a relief rally,” said Matteo Cominetta, economist at Barings Investment Institute.
“Of course some bondholders may lose some money but the contagion potential of Evergrande in terms of your bank debt, bond debt are quite limited.”
As risk sentiment returned, yields on safe-haven 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose and then eased back to flat at 1.3311%. Euro zone bond yields also edged higher, while the safe-haven yen eased slightly.
Globally, markets had already started to calm as analysts downplayed the threat of Evergrande’s troubles becoming a “Lehman moment” and setting off a financial crisis.
Analysts said the focus now seems to be shifting to trying to gauge Beijing’s so-far muted response amid worries about the consequences for a Chinese economy that is slowing and financial markets reeling from months of disruptive and radical reform.
Returning from a two-day holiday, China shares fell, though a cash injection from the People’s Bank of China kept falls far smaller than feared. Blue chips off 0.7% and Shanghai Composite reversing losses to trade up 0.3%.
That weighed on MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which fell 0.3%.
AUSSIE UP, DOLLAR FLAT
In currency markets, the Australian dollar rose as much as 0.5% to $0.7268 before giving up part of the gains to trade up 0.2% on the day.
The dollar index slipped slightly to 93.189, staying not far off Monday’s one-month high of 93.455.
Moves were capped ahead of Wednesday’s Fed meeting, however, and the dollar was flat against the euro, with the risk of a hawkish Fed supporting the dollar.
Most analysts think the Fed will not go into detail about its tapering plans but say risks lie in board members’ “dot plot” of rates projections.
“Investors are not pricing in some huge hawkish surprise but are expecting tapering discussions, and tapering, to commence later this year, maybe in November, and interest rate lift-off to happen towards the end of next year,” said Salman Baig, portfolio manager at Unigestion.
The outcome of the Fed’s meeting is announced at 1800 GMT with a news conference half an hour later.
Digital currencies bitcoin and ether, buffetted by volatility in recent days, added 4% and 6% respectively.
(Reporting by Tom Wilson in London, Tom Westbrook in Singapore and Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin and Sam Holmes)