LONDON (Reuters) - Stocks recouped some of their recent sharp losses and the dollar steadied on Friday, although both were limping towards a fourth straight week of declines driven by persistent doubts over central bank stimulus programs.
Talk that the U.S. Federal Reserve, which meets next week, could begin reducing its bond buying later in the year has fuelled a sell-off in global markets this week that has bruised stocks, bonds, emerging market assets and the dollar alike.
The U.S. currency remained sluggish as trading in New York started, but it looked to have gained a foothold against the yen at around 95 and at $1.3320 against the euro.
Wall Street was expected to open broadly flat. It bounced 1 percent on Thursday after better-than-expected U.S. retail sales brought some relief to markets, but the mood was expected to remain fragile running into next week’s Fed meeting.
Markets have been spooked by the idea the U.S. central bank could start cutting back the support which has helped drive up asset prices over the last four years. But Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Global Markets, said with growth patchy, he didn’t expect any changes before the end of the year.
“If you have easy monetary policy and improving economic conditions, which will also help companies to produce good earnings, ... then you have a lot of the building blocks in place (to drive stock market gains),” he added.
With the impact of the sell-off on riskier assets settling, top European stocks .FTEU3 climbed as much as 0.5 percent as they tracked a rebound in Japanese .N225 and Asian shares .MIAPJ0000PUS, before a late morning wobble erased some of the gains.
Investors were waiting for U.S. May inflation figures due at 8.30 a.m. ET and sentiment data at 1355 GMT which could provide fresh clues as to when the U.S. Federal Reserve, due to meet on June 18-19, might start revising its stimulus policy.
Asian and European shares, as well as MSCI’s world index .MIWD00000PUS, have fallen for four straight weeks now, while for emerging market equities it has been five as a dash back to cash and core economies has taken hold.
Despite rebounding 2 percent on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei is nursing losses since mid-May of more than 15 percent. It is a slump that has been intertwined with a strong rebound in the yen which has seen its best run since early 2010 this week. <FRX/>
In Europe’s debt markets, southern euro zone bonds were back on the front foot after a mixed few sessions despite the continent’s economic malaise. [ID:nL5N0EQ0NM] German and U.S. benchmark bonds were also up, adding to this week’s solid gains.
Rating agency Standard and Poor’s helped sentiment towards the euro zone periphery as it kept Spanish government debt above ‘junk’ status, although it left the country at risk of a downgrade by maintaining a negative outlook on the bonds.
It was a more stable situation in emerging markets assets too after the recent turbulence caused by the combination of central bank stimulus jitters and political unrest in countries such as Turkey and Syria.
Commodities, especially metals, have largely avoided the dramatic swings seen by equities and currencies this week but have not been completely immune to the market mood.
Copper has been hit by signs of slowing demand from China. It edged off a six-week low to $7,094 a tonne by 1200 GMT, while precious metals gold and platinum hovered near their recent lows.
Brent crude broke back above $105 a barrel for the first time in more than a month, however, although analysts said the volatile dollar would remain a heavy influence on prices.
“The key driver of oil has been the weakness in the dollar rather than any fundamental factors,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, who added that $106 would be a tough barrier to crack.
“Traders are wary about pushing things higher because they are confronted with a situation of plenty of supplies when seasonal demand is supposed to pick up,” Spooner said.
Additional reporting by Tricia Wright in London and Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Toby Chopra