Vaccine hope sends world shares to record highs
Equities rise for the 11th consecutive day on support from new fiscal aid from Washington, while Middle East tension drives oil to a 13-month high
London/Sydney — Global shares rose for the 11th consecutive day to hit a new peak on optimism about the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and new fiscal aid from Washington, while tension in the Middle East drove oil to a 13-month high.
As more people are vaccinated across key markets such as the US, and with US President Joe Biden looking to pump an extra $1.9-trillion in stimulus into the economy, the so-called “reflation trade” has gathered steam in recent days.
On Friday, The Cboe Volatility Index, known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, ended at its lowest level for nearly a year, helping drive a 0.2% gain for MSCI’s broadest measure of world stocks on Monday.
Taking its cue from a stronger, albeit holiday-thinned Asian session, Europe’s major indices were a sea of green in early deals, led by a near-1% gain for Britain’s FTSE 100.
With China and Hong Kong markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, Japan’s Nikkei led the way, climbing 1.9% to reclaim the 30,000-point level for the first time in more than three decades.
E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were also higher, up 0.3%, though US stock markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday.
Later in the week, all eyes will be on the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s January meeting, where policymakers decided to leave rates unchanged, for hints to the likely direction of monetary policy.
Those concerned about the effect of market exuberance on the outlook for inflation will also have fresh data to parse, with Britain, Canada and Japan all due to report. Friday will also see major economies, including the US, release preliminary February purchasing managers indices.
“In our view, as long as the rise [in inflation] is gradual, equity markets can continue to do well. However, unruly moves would certainly hurt investor sentiment,” said Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy, Natixis Investment Managers Solutions.
“Credit spreads have tightened sharply already, but they still have room to absorb some higher yields, making us more comfortable with credit risk than interest rate risk,” Dwek said.
Oil joined equity markets in pushing higher, reaching its highest level since January 2020 on the hope US stimulus will boost the economy and fuel demand and after a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it intercepted an explosive-laden drone fired by the Iran-aligned Houthi group.
Brent crude rose 1.6% to $63.41 a barrel. US crude oil gained 2.1% to $60.74.
With risk assets in favour, safe havens dipped, with gold down 0.2% to $1,819/oz.
The dollar also remained under the cosh, hovering near two-week lows as traders took a more cautious view of the pace of the US economy’s rebound. Against a basket of currencies it was last down about 0.2%.
Bitcoin, meanwhile, recovered some of its overnight weakness to trade down 2.3% at $47,539.49, below a record high of $49,714.66.
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