Markets on edge before key US healthcare vote

 

World markets wobbled Friday as investors looked to a key vote on US healthcare reform whose passage is seen as crucial to the future of Donald Trump's growth agenda.

The four-month rally in global stocks came to a juddering halt this week as the new president struggled to garner enough support from his own Republican party for a bill repealing ObamaCare.

There are fears the bill's failure would throw a spanner in the works for his other big-ticket pledges on infrastructure spending, tax cuts and deregulation -- key drivers of the markets' surge.

A vote on the reforms pencilled in for Thursday was put back a day, with the White House saying it would definitely pass. Nevertheless, Trump turned up the pressure on lawmakers on Friday.

"After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!," Trump tweeted.

"Global equities are on the back foot into the weekend as investors eschew risk following a 24-hour delay by US lawmakers to vote on a repeal of Obamacare due to lack of Republican support," said Mike van Dulken, analyst at Accendo Markets.

"Considered a key hurdle before moving forward with other bullish stimulus pledges (tax cuts, deregulation, infrastructure spending) the outcome could represent a turning point within the Trump rally, either reigniting it or possibly snuffing it out," the expert said.

"The threat of a rejection in Congress for Trump's Obamacare replacement has brought about significant doubts over his ability to pass his corporate tax cut this week," noted IG (Frankfurt: A0EARV - news) analyst Joshua Mahony.

- Move on to tax -

"However, Trump has indicated that should the healthcare reforms not pass, he would simply move on to his other plans, such as cutting corporate taxes."

The administration gave lawmakers an ultimatum Thursday, warning that if the bill failed then Obamacare -- which Republicans have vilified since its inception seven years ago -- would stay in place and Trump would move on to the rest of his agenda.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader, added that the bill's success would be a major positive for Trump, who is struggling with a fractious Republican party, controversy over alleged links to Russia and record low popularity ratings.

And Toshihiko Matsuno, head of investment information at SMBC Friend Securities, told AFP: "Even (Taiwan OTC: 6436.TWO - news) though the vote was delayed, the fact that it will take place Friday probably means the Republican plan will pass."

However, McKenna added: "If it fails then the whole house of cards that's been built up since the election can come crashing down as traders and investors wonder what the heck will happen to tax and infrastructure plans."

- Key figures around 1640 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.1 at 20,671.72 points

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.05 percent at 7,336.82 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.2 percent at 12,064.27 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.2 percent at 5,020.90 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,444.15 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 19,262.53 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 24,358.27 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,269.45 (close)

Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.0805

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2491 from $1.2484

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.03 yen from 111.21 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 15 cents at $47.85 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 25 cents at $50.81

burs-spm/jh

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