Shares everywhere is set to start the year on a positive note after a tentative deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" in the US and encouraging economic news from China.
Dow Jones futures were 250 points higher - about 2 per cent - after the deal was agreed in a late-night meetings in Congress, setting the scene for a good start to the trading year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had closed 166.03 points higher at 13,104.14 on Monday after signs of a possible deal.
The ''fiscal cliff'', which was set to kick in on January 1, would have led to $US600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts. It's important to remember that there's some tightening of fiscal policy, which is good news - that's what the US economy needs given its budget position - but it's not so severe as to cause a hard landing.The elimination of a 2 percent payroll tax cut, coupled with higher income taxes on the wealthy, will help reduce growth in the first quarter to 1 percent, from 3.1 percent in 2012’s third quarter, the latest data available. The expected slowdown is a lot better than no deal at all. What markets hate most is UNCERTAINTY.
The first half slowdown will mean that the U.S. will make limited progress in reducing unemployment in 2013 - which if you remember will mean continued liquidity by Federal Reserve for a prolonged period as it will take sometime to whittle down the unemployment rate.
There were also encouraging signs from China as data showed its manufacturing activity expanding last month for the third straight month. The purchasing managers' index (PMI) remained steady at 50.6 in December, although it was slightly lower than HSBC bank's PMI survey of 51.5 - a 19-month high. The lift in manufacturing appeared to have been reflected in rising commodity prices over the past few weeks, adding to suggestions the worst could be over for the global economy.
In another boost for financial markets, China's President, Hu Jintao, said in a New Year's Eve address that the country would work towards fostering global economic growth. The country would "step up efforts to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the world economy", said Mr Hu, who is set to step down as president in March.
News that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, had called for a "radical turnabout" in his country's economy and offered an olive branch to South Korea would also lift the market. In a rare new year's address broadcast on state television, Mr Kim said 2013 would be a year of "great creations and changes in which a radical turnabout will be effected" and that ''the building of an economic giant is the most important task'' facing North Korea.
"An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification is to remove confrontation between the North and the South," he added.