The Malta Independent 20 November 2018, Tuesday

Dow in fresh record territory

Friday, 1 December 2017, 11:20 Last update: about 13 months ago

U.S. stocks posted strong gains on Thursday, advancing into record territory as optimism grew over the prospects for a tax overhaul out of Washington. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5%, adding more than 350 points on the day, trading at a record 24,289, a first for the blue-chip index. The S&P 500 rose 30 points, or 1.1%, to 2,656, also hitting a record. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 62 points, or 0.9%, to 6,886. The day's advance was broad, with all 11 of the primary S&P 500 sectors higher on the day with financials amongst the biggest risers.


Meanwhile, U.K. stocks underperformed the broader European markets as pressure by another strong rally in the pound pushed the London indexes down. Sterling was rising on further signs of a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations. BAE Systems PLC advanced 1.9% after the defense company said it does not expect new accounting standards to have a material impact on earnings.

Russia-OPEC collaboration

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, led by Russia, agreed on exit from the deal if the market overheats.The producers’ current deal, under which they are cutting supply by about 1.8 million barrels per day in an effort to boost oil prices, expires in March.

With oil prices rising above $60, Russia has expressed concerns that an extension for the whole of 2018 could prompt a spike in crude production in the United States, which is not participating in the deal. Russia, has been pushing for a clear message on how to exit the cuts so the market doesn’t flip into a deficit too soon, prices don’t rally too fast and rival U.S. shale firms don’t boost output further.

Fresh restructuring for RBS

Royal Bank of Scotland takes another step on its road to recovery, as the bank closes its so-called “bad-bank”, which was set up to handle toxic assets stemming from the 2008 financial crisis. RBS's Capital Resolution division, which in its various iterations was created to help keep RBS solvent, was set up after the bank was bailed out by the UK government. The closure of the division draws a line under a massive restructuring at RBS, which has seen its balance sheet reduce from £2.2 trillion in 2008 to £752bn today.

In last week's Budget, the government revived plans to sell down its 72% stake in the bank, aiming to sell £15bn of its shares by 2023. Earlier this week, RBS passed the Bank of England stress test, having failed in 2016. "It has taken nearly 10 years to undo the consequences of the global ambitions pursued by RBS in the run up to the crisis," RBS chief executive Ross McKewan said, adding that it was an "unprecedented" achievement.



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