Global stock markets edge higher ahead of Trump-Xi meeting


Global stock markets moved tentatively higher on Tuesday, with a narrower US trade deficit boosting Wall Street modestly ahead of a key US-China summit later this week, dealers said.

European markets sloughed off earlier weakness caused by the Saint Petersburg metro attack Monday, which left 14 dead, dozens wounded and had initially sent investors rushing for haven investments like gold and the yen.

US stocks also finished higher after a choppy session.

While sentiment had been also hampered by anxiety over this week's crucial US-China summit, data from the US Commerce Department showed the US trade deficit narrowed in February.

In its biggest monthly drop since September, the trade gap shrank 9.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted $43.6 billion on falling imports of cars, consumer goods, fuel and semiconductors.

After an initially mixed start in Europe and on Wall Street, stocks prices in Frankfurt, Paris, London and New York all ended the session higher.

Nevertheless, caution was likely to prevail ahead of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, analysts said.

Analysts have expressed worries a breakdown in relations between the two countries could lead to a trade war.

Stock markets were "vulnerable to downside shocks... as investors lost appetite for risk ahead of the Trump-Xi summit this week," said FXTM analyst Lukman Otunuga.

"While the fanatical optimism over Trump's proposed fiscal policies boosting US growth has fueled the phenomenal stock market rally, the rising protectionist fears and concealed concerns over the pro-growth agenda falling short of expectations could catalyze an unexpected sell off," the expert warned.

- 'Potentially tense summit' -

On Thursday and Friday, Trump will host Xi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The encounter is expected to address disputes over trade policy between the world's two most powerful nations and leading economies.

Trump recently said he expects the meeting with Xi "will be a very difficult one." It follows a series of his criticisms of Beijing's trade policies and accusations it is manipulating its currency.

In Moscow, Russia's Investigative Committee identified the bomber in the deadly Saint Petersburg metro blast as 22-year-old Akbarjon Djalilov, an ethnic Uzbek.

Russia's second city mourned the 14 people killed and those injured in the explosion.

Investors will also focus this week on the March US jobs report and the release of minutes from the most recent monetary policy meetings of the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.

- Key figures at 2030 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 20,689.24 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,360.16 (close)

New York - Nasdaq (Frankfurt: 813516 - news) : UP 0.1 percent at 5,898.61 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,321.82 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,282.34 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,101.13 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,478.58

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.9 percent at 18,810.25 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: Closed for public holiday

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for public holiday

Euro/dollar: UNCHANGED at $1.0671 from $1.0671

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2441 from $1.2484

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.74 yen from 110.91 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP $1.05 at $54.17 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 79 cents at $51.03 per barrel