World stock markets attempt rebound from rout

NEW YORK (AFP) - Global stock markets attempted to rebound Friday with mixed results one day after ferocious losses sparked by worries over rising US interest rates and the fallout from trade fights.

Wall Street stocks finished a gloomy week on a high note, with the S&P 500 advancing 1.4 percent. But the session was hardly drama-free and included a midday swoon that briefly took the Dow into negative territory.

Even with Friday's gains, the S&P 500 lost 4.1 percent for the week, its worst since March.

Asia enjoyed healthy gains, with Hong Kong surging 2.1 percent, Shanghai up 0.9 percent and Tokyo adding 0.5 percent, at the end of a bruising week for investors worldwide.

Europe initially chased Asia higher but gave up gains as the closing bell approached. London and Paris ended the day down 0.2 percent, while Frankfurt gave up 0.1 percent.

"Markets appeared to remain skittish regarding the recent rise in bond yields and resurfaced worries that the US Fed could be heading toward a policy mistake," said a note from Schwab.

Other analysts saw at least some signs of improvement.

"The brutal selloff that engulfed global stocks this week took a pause on Friday as risk sentiment slightly improved across financial markets," said analyst Lukman Otunuga at trading firm FXTM.

Efforts at reassurance

This week's pullback was sparked by a jump in US Treasury yields, along with worries about trade conflicts and high valuations.

But markets appeared reassured by comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who said Friday the sell-off was not surprising.

"I think the fundamentals are still very strong. The US economy is strong, US earnings are strong," Mnuchin told CNBC. "So I see this as just a natural correction after the markets were up a lot."

Mnuchin also downplayed concerns about US President Donald Trump's repeated and aggressive attacks on the US Federal Reserve this week, saying Trump "respects the independence of the Fed."