March 15, 2019 / 10:01 AM / 6 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks rise on renewed trade hopes, set for best week since January

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019

* Stocks set for best week since Jan. 11

* Chinese premier comments suggest more fiscal stimulus

* Xinhua news agency says trade talks making progress

* Oil prices edge up

By Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Global stocks rose on Friday after a report that U.S.-China trade talks were making progress and a vote by UK lawmakers to delay the British exit from the European Union.

European stocks markets opened higher, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index reaching its highest since October. S&P 500 futures also gained, indicating stocks would open higher on Wall Street.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He spoke by telephone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer, and the two sides made substantive progress on trade, the news agency Xinhua reported.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan gained over half a percent.

MSCI’s All-Country World Index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was up 1 percent on the day and was set for its best week since early January.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 1 percent and Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.8 percent.

South Korea’s KOSPI rose nearly 1 percent. The index had risen as much as 1.2 percent but gave up some gains following reports that North Korea might suspend nuclear talks with the United States.

Comments from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also helped sentiment. His remarks suggested Beijing is ready to roll out more forceful stimulus to bolster China’s economy.

China has so far promised billions in tax cuts and infrastructure spending, as weakening domestic demand and the trade war with the United States curbs economic growth.

“China and Europe had been two of the key areas of concern at the start of 2019 and even though there is still much uncertainty, targeted fiscal stimulus in China (VAT cut April 1) and potentially some clarity emerging on Brexit over coming weeks could improve sentiment,” strategists at ING Bank wrote in a note to clients.

European stocks rose to a five-month high after Britain’s parliamentary vote on Brexit. The pound was flat on the day at $1.3243.

“We view the overall outcome of this week’s votes ... as positive for UK assets,” strategists at BNP Paribas wrote in a research note. “Indeed, the pound has risen by 2 percent on the week. Yet, while most of the routes ahead now look net positive, we still expect a bumpy path.”

Elsewhere in currencies, the dollar index slipped 0.2 percent to 96.619 after rising 0.25 percent on Thursday to recover from a nine-day trough of 96.385.

The U.S. currency was flat at 111.70 yen. It had dipped to 111.49 yen after the Bank of Japan’s left interest rates unchanged.

The central bank offered a bleaker assessment of exports and output, as global demand waned. Observers said, that it may be too early to expect the BOJ to ease policy further.

The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.1315 after slipping 0.2 percent overnight.

Oil prices rose as investors focused on global production cuts and supply disruptions in Venezuela. U.S. crude futures rose 0.2 percent to $58.74 per barrel, holding close to Thursday’s four-month peak of $58.74. Brent was 0.25 percent higher at $67.39. (Reporting by Ritvik Carvalho; additional reporting by Sujata Rao and Josephine Mason in London and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; editing by Larry King)

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