London — World shares rose to new all-time highs overnight and European indices strengthened, with market sentiment generally upbeat on the prospect of fiscal stimulus and vaccine rollouts and ahead of a speech by US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was up 0.2% at 8.33am GMT, having touched new peaks shortly before. Overnight, MSCI’s Asian shares index, which excludes Japan, also broke above its previous high hit in January.

European indices strengthened after a shaky start, with the Stoxx 600 and London’s FTSE 100 both up 0.2%.

The dollar slipped slightly against a basket of currencies, down 0.2% at a two-week low of 90.263.

“The reflation rally continues and, interestingly, with the dollar now weakening, which suggests inflows into Asia are being recycled,” wrote Sebastien Galy, senior macro-strategist at Nordea Asset Management. “Eventually, the reflation in commodities will start to affect real economic activity and create a negative feedback loop, especially oil.” 

Oil prices rose overnight but steadied as European markets opened. Brent has risen for eight days in a row, the longest sustained run of gains since January 2019, while US oil gained for seven days, the longest rally since February 2019.

China’s consumer price index (CPI) fell more than expected, but factory prices posted their first year-on-year rise in 12 months, suggesting gathering momentum in the industrial sector. 

Chinese stocks rose to multi-year highs on the last trading day before the week-long lunar new year holidays

“China has been able to recover quickly because it controlled the pandemic quickly, which enabled it to fill the gap caused by production bottlenecks in countries where Covid-19 restrictions were still in place,” Marcin Adamczyk, head of emerging-markets debt at NN Investment Partners, wrote in a note.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he agreed with a proposal by Democrat lawmakers that would limit or phase out stimulus payments to higher-income individuals as part of his $1.9-trillion Covid-19 relief bill.

The US government will begin shipping vaccines directly to community health centres next week as part of Biden’s goal of administering 100-million doses of the vaccine in his first 100 days in office.

Earnings also contributed to market optimism. Japan’s Toyota hiked its full-year earnings forecasts by 54% to a record $19bn. Société Générale beat profit forecasts for the fourth quarter, as did Dutch bank ABN Amro.

After a slight pullback on Wall Street on Tuesday, S&P 500 futures pointed towards a stronger open, up 0.3%.

Powell will speak at a webinar about the state of the US labour market at 7pm GMT.

“The Fed’s job in avoiding unwarranted moves higher in yields is about to get more difficult,” wrote Derek Halpenny, MUFG head of research for global markets EMEA, in a note to clients.

“Tonight’s speech will need to be carefully balanced between an improving outlook due to Covid-19 and continued caution given the high levels of uncertainty and the long road to achieving its new, higher inflation goal.”

US CPI data is also due later in the session. The 10-year treasury yield was little changed at 1.1534%, having dipped from a spike on Monday to its highest since March 2020.

 In Europe, the benchmark 10-year German bund yield was steady at -0.445%. Italian borrowing costs hit a one-month low on Tuesday as Mario Draghi made progress in his attempt to form a government.

The euro was up 0.2% at $1.2137, its highest in nine days. In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin was trading at about $46,763 and ether hit new record highs.


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