© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work at their screens at the stock exchange in Frankfurt

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Positive noises from China on U.S. trade talks lifted European stocks on Thursday and snuffed out a modest rally in safe-haven assets that had dominated in Asia.

Europe’s main bourses had initially stuttered but muscled 0.5% higher when China said it was in close communication with Washington and preparing to make progress in upcoming trade talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump had also stoked hopes when he told reporters the two sides were having “good conversations” and that an agreement “could happen sooner than you think”.

Investors top-sliced some of their European government bond holdings in response, as the third German resignation from the European Central Bank’s board in recent years overnight also amplified doubts around the sustainability its stimulus measures.

But it was nothing too dramatic. Ten-year yields were up no more that 2 basis point across the region,, and the major currencies barely budged too, having now got used to the constant tooing and froing of the year-long trade war.

Just on Tuesday, Trump had sharply criticized China in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly, where he said he would not accept a “bad deal”.

“I think the trade talks will take years if it ever has a solution,” Makor Capital Markets strategist, Stéphane Barbier de la Serre, said.

“To me, what we see (today) is just market expectations, it is purely micro management of the market, nothing else. We have nearing a point where nobody cares about the discussions.”

The sidewinding dollar was still well within reach of a 2-year high having also shrugged off the latest controversy surrounding Trump.

Transcripts of a call showed he had nudged Ukraine’s president for possible information on presidential rival Joe Biden. Traders however remained skeptical about the likelihood of Trump being officially impeached.

CUTTING

The biggest currency rise of the day meanwhile was New Zealand dollar, which climbed 0.5% to $0.6305 after the head of the country’s central bank said it was unlikely to need unconventional stimulus measures.

Elsewhere in the region the Philippines joined the army of global central banks which have cut interest rates this month, with a 25 basis point trim to 4% Mexico could slice its 8% rates but a similar amount later too.

Overnight, the rest Asia had struggled for clear direction. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan and Japan’s both ended fractionally higher after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump signed a limited trade deal on Wednesday.

But major China tech stocks slumped more than 3% for the second day running, Australian shares fell 0.5% and gold tiptoed higher in a sign that some investors were still searching out safety.

Oil prices swung in and out of the red meanwhile with fetching $62.52 per barrel and at $56.50 a barrel.

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2019-09-26