SHANGHAI — Investor panic over China’s economic woes calmed on Thursday, with stock exchanges in Asia and Europe bouncing back.
In the U.S., stocks are opening higher after better-than-expected economic news as well as signals that the Fed might hold off on an interest rate increase. The Dow Jones Industrial Index was up 229 points, or 1.4 percent, to 16,515 while the S&P 500 gained 1,6 percent to 1,970.
The Shanghai Composite Index finished the day in positive territory for the first time this week on Thursday, up 5.3 percent at the end of trading.
After days of dramatic fluctuations, the Index remained steady for much of the day, in the late afternoon rising above 3000, commonly thought of as an important psychological marker for the market, and staying there to finish at 3084.
The smaller Shenzhen Composite added 3.3 percent, boosted by reports that the government plans to announce new measures Friday morning to prop up the market.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index also perked up, closing up 3.6 percent, with some stocks adding more 14 percent.
Europe’s stock markets all lifted Thursday morning, their latest climb in a week of ups and downs in response to China’s volatile markets.
The DAX in Frankfurt rose 2.9 percent to 10,283.12, followed by the CAC 40 in Paris, up 2.6 percent to 4,619.28. The FTSE MIB in Milan gained 2.3 percent to 21,971.60, while the FTSE 100 in London rose 2.1 percent to 6,101.88.
According to reports, investors were buoyed after the U.S. Federal Reserve indicated Wednesday that it is unlikely to raise interest rates in September, in the wake of China’s slowing growth.
Until today’s rally, China’s stock markets had been on a weeklong losing streak, impacting investors both big and small. Asia’s richest man Wang Jianlin alone at one stage saw his personal fortune drop $13 billion in value from the Chinese stock market’s high point in mid-June.
The yuan also had a slightly better day, edging up against the dollar, in part because of the stock market rally.
Despite today’s better market and currency performance, less-than-positive economic news out of China still proliferates.
A Reuters poll released Thursday indicates that China’s manufacturing sector activity likely shrank further in August to its lowest level in three years.
The official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is forecast to edge down to 49.7, the weakest level since August 2012, from 50 in July, according to the median forecast of 20 economists in the poll.
A reading above 50 indicates an expansion in activity while one below that points to a contraction on a monthly basis.
In Hong Kong, Li & Fung gained 4.5 percent to close at 8.10 Hong Kong dollars, and Nike distributor Belle International was up 4.7 percent to 7.12 Hong Kong dollars. The world’s largest jeweler, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, rose 3.3 percent to end the day at 6.95 Hong Kong dollars.
Meanwhile, Nomura analysts Andrew Orchard and Liz Guan said in a research note they are expecting the prices of parallel goods in China to rise next month citing reports from local media and “daigou” merchants or reseller, that customs officials would be checking luggage of international travelers and mail packages more stringently.
“We talked to a few ‘daigou’ merchants on Taobao,” the note said, “and we received the feedback that the customs inspections have tightened in recent months and some of their parcels have been detained by customs. The detained parcels will be kept at customs until related taxes are paid or they will be sent back to the original countries.”
The move is expected to pressure Korean and Japanese beauty products the most, the note said.
More than 30 percent of all Chinese luxury sales are conducted through parallel traders, according to OC&C Strategy partner Richard McKenzie.
European fashion, luxury and retail stocks were all largely in positive territory. Risers included the MySale Group, 6.2 percent to 0.55 pounds; Salvatore Ferragamo, 3 percent to 25.73 euros; Hugo Boos, 2.6 percent to 102.40 euros; and Richemont, 2.3 percent to 71.75 Swiss francs.
Among the few fallers were Gemfields, 0.4 percent to 0.59 pounds; French Connection, 0.4 percent to 0.32 pounds; Mulberry, 1.1 percent to 8.99 pounds; and Prada, 2 percent to 31.45 Hong Kong dollars.
At 11:15 a.m. CET, the pound traded for $1.56, while the euro went for $1.14. The Swiss franc changed hands for $1.06 and the Hong Kong dollar for $0.13.
Back in the U.S., the second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased 3.7 percent, while consensus was at 3.1 percent. Initial jobless claims were 271,000 – better than the Briefing.com estimate of 275,000. And several retailers delivered second quarter earnings before the market opened on Thursday that were varied.
Tiffany missed earnings estimates and lowered its full-year results. Tiffany reported earnings per share of 81 cents, lower than last year’s 96 cents per share and miss estimates of 90 cents per share. The stock slid 2.75 percent to $82.80 and has already fallen over 20 percent this past year. Tiffany blamed the strong dollar for hurting tourist spending in the U.S., although half of Tiffany’s sales come from outside America.
Movado didn’t seem to have any issues selling watches in the second quarter as the company beat profits forecasts and increased sales. Movado delivered earnings of 50 cents per share, much better than the Zack’s estimate of 42 cents per share.
The luxury watchmaker also reported that its revenue came in at $145.6 million, higher than the FactSet estimate of $142 million.