| LONDON, April 28
LONDON, April 28 Concern about global trade and
U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" policies kept
appetite for risky assets in check on Friday, setting world
stocks on the path to a sluggish end to what will still be their
fifth straight month of gains.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump called the five-year-old
trade pact with South Korea "unacceptable" and said it would be
targeted for renegotiation after his administration completes a
revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with
Canada and Mexico.
Trump's comments stunned South Korean financial markets,
sending Seoul stocks and the won into reverse.
Saturday marks Trump's 100th day in office and his attacks
on free trade and scepticism about his administration's ability
to see through tax and spending campaign promises has dented
some of the enthusiasm in markets that followed his election
"Trump is reaching the 100 day mark with nothing to show for
it and these recent comments just coincide with that. They (the
U.S. administration) are finding it hard to push through fiscal
plans and all this rhetoric is probably related," Kiran Kowshik,
strategist at Unicredit.
The mood on Europe, however, remained relatively upbeat.
Euro zone bond yields rose across the board and the euro
strengthened on Friday as economic output data from several
countries reaffirmed a picture of economic strength in the bloc.
The single currency also strengthened, rising 0.1 percent
against the dollar to $1.0885. while euro zone bond
yields rose 1-2 basis points across the board.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch noted that the $21 billion of
inflows into European equity funds over the past week were the
highest since December 2015.
"The hard data for equities is earnings -- and they are
powering ahead. Q1 earnings season is very strong and revisions
trends are positive and broad based," said analysts at the U.S.
Banking results dominated early trading with Barclays
shares sliding 5 percent after weak investment banking
results at the UK bank while UBS jumped 2.6 percent
after it handily beat analyst expectations.
The STOXX 600 was little changed on the day and set
to post a 1.6 percent gain for the month. It is up 7 percent so
far this year.
In commodities, oil prices rose but were still on track for
a second straight weekly loss on concerns that an OPEC-led
production cut has failed to significantly tighten an
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $49.43
per barrel at 0649 GMT, up 46 cents, or 0.94 percent, from their
last close. However, WTI is still set for a small weekly loss
and is around 8 percent below its April peak.
Brent crude LCOc1 was at $51.91 per barrel, up 47 cents, or
0.91 percent. Brent is almost around 8.5 percent down from its
April peak and is also on track for a second, albeit small, week
(Additional reporting by Sujata Rao Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)