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Global stocks rise, shrugging off US shutdown fears


[NEW YORK] Global stock markets rose on Friday, with major Wall Street indices ending at all-time records, as investors shrugged off a looming shutdown of the US government.

The S&P and Nasdaq both finished at all-time highs, while the Dow also gained. Leading bourses in Europe and Asia advanced, while the dollar recovered some of its losses from the prior session against the euro.

"Investors don't appear particularly bothered about the prospect of a government shutdown, with the assumption being that (a temporary spending bill) will eventually be signed and any economic impact will be minor or non-existent," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at trading firm OANDA.

Congressional Democratic leaders met with President Donald Trump at the White House early Friday afternoon to try to avert a shutdown as a midnight deadline loomed for the Republican-controlled Senate to approve a new funding bill.

Analysts say a government shutdown could damage the economy, particularly sectors that do extensive business with the government and especially if it is prolonged.

But most market watchers do not expect that to happen.

"I think the politicians themselves realise it's probably not in anybody's interest to have this be a long-term shutdown," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist of TD Ameritrade.

"The market realises it's a short-term thing and we're not going to stay shut down forever." Kinahan said investors are fixated much more on corporate earnings reports, which have been good so far, although the bulk of major companies have yet to report.

Fitch Ratings said a shutdown in itself would not impact the US government's top rating, but could further destabilise budget policymaking and "lead to brinkmanship" over raising the debt level before the US Treasury runs out of extraordinary measures to pay the government's bills in March or April.

In Europe, Frankfurt pushed 1.2 per cent higher, while London managed to break a four-day losing streak despite poor UK retail sales data.

IG analyst Joshua Mahony said the "disappointing set of retail sales figures should be put in the context of shifting shopping habits".

British retail sales slid 1.5 per cent in December from the previous month after consumers had brought forward their Christmas shopping, official data showed.

Retail sales had jumped by 1.0 per cent in November, boosted by Black Friday price reductions, the Office for National Statistics said.

Asian markets mostly rose Friday after another positive week across trading floors.


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