Global shares hit two-month high, dollar firms as Trump speech nears

President Donald Trump was due to give his State of the Union speech today, with investors awaiting indications of progress in US-China trade talks and watching for signs of tensions with Democrats following a 35-day partial federal government shutdown. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Feb 6 — World stocks rose to a fresh two-month high yesterday to keep up their fast start to 2019 while the US dollar strengthened for a fourth straight session as investors looked toward an annual address by the US president later in the evening.

Boosted by US and European equity performance, MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.64 per cent, increasing for a sixth straight session as it hit a two-month high.

President Donald Trump was due to give his State of the Union speech at 2100 ET (10am Wednesday, Malaysia Time), with investors awaiting indications of progress in US-China trade talks and watching for signs of tensions with Democrats following a 35-day partial federal government shutdown.

The Federal Reserve’s dovish recent statement on interest rate policy, along with optimism over US-China tensions, has fuelled recent risk appetite, even as estimates for US corporate earnings have been falling.

“We could move significantly higher if the geopolitical environment improves, and we could also decline if things break down,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York. “There will be lots of hints tonight about the US political landscape.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172.15 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 25,411.52, the S&P 500 gained 12.83 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 2,737.7 and the Nasdaq Composite added 54.55 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 7,402.08.

Shares of Estée Lauder Cos and Ralph Lauren reacted favourably to the companies’ respective quarterly reports.

“The main focus

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