Picture: 123RF/NUPEAN PRUPRONG
Picture: 123RF/NUPEAN PRUPRONG

London/Sydney — World stocks have held their ground near three-month highs as the euro hit its highest level since March 10, thanks to Europe’s stimulus boost, fueling hopes for a global rebound.

Investors are pricing in an economic recovery despite data showing the severe damage wrought by coronavirus lockdowns. Later in the day, US non-farm payrolls figures are expected to show further deterioration in the country’s jobs market.

Led by a jump in banks, insurers, vehicle manufacturers and travel, the pan-European Stoxx 600 jumped 1.3%, still enjoying a boost from the European Central Bank’s (ECB) pledge to supply extra cash to its pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP).

The Stoxx 600 is about 15% below all-time highs, but has recovered more than 37% from March lows. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares excluding Japan rose 0.7%, reversing early losses to stay near a 12-week top.

The index is up about 7.4% this week, on track for its best weekly showing since December 2011.

With investors tentatively in risk-on mode, emerging-market stocks were up 0.6% on the day and on course for their best week since December 2011.

“The ECB decision was better then expected in terms of liquidity,” said François Savary, chief investment officer at Swiss wealth manager Prime Partners. “The market has been driven by the sentiment that everything is going well and a recovery is in sight for the second half of the year. But the big question is the market ahead of fundamentals? There’s room for consolidation.”

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 rose 1%.

Analysts cautioned about the heady levels, with equity valuations at their highest since the dot.com boom in 2000, according to Matthew Sherwood, investment strategist for Perpetual. World equity markets were thrashed in March when they hit “bear territory” on fears the coronavirus-driven lockdowns would push the global economy into a long and deep recession.

Market sentiment has since been bolstered by central bank stimulus.

However Bob Michele, chief investment officer and head of the global fixed income, currency and commodities group at JPMorgan Asset Management, warned the huge quantitative easing (QE) would distort pricing and mute traditional signals from bond markets on growth and inflation, advocating “co-investing” alongside central banks.

Investor attention is now focused on Friday’s US employment report, which is expected to show non-farm payrolls fell in May by 8-million jobs after a record 20.54-million plunge in April. The US unemployment rate is forecast to rocket to 19.8%, a post-World War 2 record, from 14.7% in April.

Currencies

Currency markets continued to show confidence in the expected revival of the global economy.

Set for a third straight week of gains, the euro rose to $1.1380, its highest level since March 10 and was on course for a weekly jump of 2.5% and a ninth straight day of gains, its longest series of rises on record since October 2004.

The dollar index is on track for its third consecutive week of losses at 96.611, close to its lowest in nearly three months. All eyes will now be on the US Federal Reserve, which holds its regular two-day policy meeting next week.

The Australian dollar rose 0.8% to $0.6999, briefly rising above $0.70 for the first time since early January.

German government bond yields hit their highest levels in months, while Italian and other low-rated Southern European borrowing costs dropped further after the ECB’s hefty support effort.

In commodities, US crude gained 1.4% to $37.92 per barrel and Brent added 0.8% to $40.76, with benchmarks on track for a sixth week of gains, thanks to output cuts amid signs of improving fuel demand.

Spot gold was down 0.2% at $1,708.07 an ounce, set for a third consecutive weekly decline as economic recovery hopes fueled demand for riskier assets.

Reuters