Markets move higher before US healthcare vote

 

World stock markets pushed higher on Thursday as investors awaited a key US healthcare vote, with even London gaining one day after a terror attack killed three people in the heart of the capital.

Most Asian and European equities climbed as investors tracked a bounce in New York on Wednesday, with focus now on a crucial congressional vote on US healthcare reform later on Thursday.

However, markets had suffered a sharp sell-off Tuesday on fears that US President Donald Trump's economy-boosting measures could be delayed by his struggles to push through his repeal of Obamacare.

"Trump's healthcare vote could be key to markets," said Oanda analyst Craig Erlam.

"Should the healthcare plan be approved by Congress then we could see a resumption of the Trump rally while a failure could leave markets vulnerable to a larger correction."

Expectations are that the tycoon's health system proposals will fall foul of lawmakers including Republicans. This has raised questions about the fate of promised infrastructure spending, tax cuts and deregulation.

"Today will be the first major test for Trump's legislative ability and the outcome may either create a Trump slump or technical bounce for bulls to exploit," said FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga.

Wall Street equities also pushed higher on Thursday, with the Dow up 0.4 percent in midday trading.

Back in Europe, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index closed 0.2 higher, with the previous day's terror attack in the capital showing no noticeable effect on investor sentiment.

Three people were killed in an IS-claimed attack in central London on Wednesday, when a man mowed down pedestrians on a bridge and then stabbed a police officer outside parliament before being shot dead.

In total, the assailant killed three people during the rampage: two members of the public and the police officer.

Forty people were hurt in the attack with 29 treated in hospital, including seven who remained in a critical condition on Thursday.

"Yesterday's terrorist attack in Westminster proved once again that markets are remarkably resilient in the face of such atrocities," said IG (Frankfurt: A0EARV - news) analyst Joshua Mahony.

"Terrorist attacks will typically only impact markets if they have a subsequent international military response.

"Memories of a rise in the French CAC index in the wake of the Paris atrocities goes to show that markets are rational and any selling is usually short-lived if such an attack bears little impact for the economy going forward."

The dollar enjoyed some tentative buying, edging up slightly against the yen.

However, the greenback is still languishing at near four-month lows against the Japanese and European units after the Federal Reserve last Wednesday indicated its pace of interest rate hikes would likely be slower than thought.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 at 7,340.71 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 1.1 percent at 12,039.68 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 5,032.76 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,451.56

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 20,745.04

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 19,085.31 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: FLAT at 24,327.70 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,248.55 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0783 from $1.0798

Pound/dollar: UP at $1. from $1.2483

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.22 yen from 111.15 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 15 cents at $47.89 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: FLAT at $50.64

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