World stocks hit by renewed caution over global economy
Dollar rebounds to one-week high with investors opting for safer assets amid rising cases of Delta variant of Covid-19
London/Hong Kong — World stocks fell from the previous session’s record highs and European stocks dropped on Wednesday on renewed caution over the pace of economic recovery. The dollar jumped to one-week highs as investors reduced exposure to riskier assets.
Accommodative central bank policies and optimism about reopening economies have pushed world stocks to record highs, but concerns are mounting about the impact of rising coronavirus infections from the Delta variant.
Markets are also still assessing data from last week which showed the US economy created the fewest jobs in seven months in August.
The Fed should move forward with a plan to taper its massive asset purchase programme despite the slowdown in job growth, St Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said in an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday.
“Everything is tapering, tapering, tapering. We are looking at every single central bank — when is the next one?” said Eddie Cheng, head of international multi-asset portfolio management at Wells Fargo Asset Management, though he added: “The Delta variant impact is still running like a wild card.”
The MSCI’s world equity index fell 0.24% after seven consecutive days of gains.
European stocks fell more than 1% to their lowest in almost three weeks, while the UK’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.85% to two-week lows.
S&P futures fell 0.34% after the S&P 500 lost 0.34% overnight, but the Nasdaq Composite hit record highs as investors favoured Big Tech stocks, which have performed well during the pandemic.
“What is likely ahead of us is a continued but temporary deceleration of economic activity of one to three months which likely started in August,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.
In Europe, markets are focused on whether the European Central Bank will begin to scale back its bond purchase programme this week.
The dollar hit a one-week high against the euro and against an index of currencies, recovering from recent five-week lows.
Yields on 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.3529% compared with a US close of 1.371% on Tuesday, retreating from this week’s eight-week highs. Germany’s 10-year Bund yield edged lower to -0.329%.
The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.68%, after stretching gains in the past eight sessions.
Australia slipped 0.24%, Hong Kong shed 0.45% and Chinese blue chips dropped 0.41%, also weighed down by recent soft data in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Bucking the regional trend, Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.89% to a five-month high, helped by revised GDP figures that beat expectations.
Bitcoin paused for breath after plunging 17% on Monday to a low of around $43,000 before recovering. It was last at $45,170, down 3.67%.
US crude oil rose 0.42% to $68.64 a barrel and Brent crude gained 0.33% to $71.92, with prices supported by a slow production restart in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida hit the region.
Gold gained 0.21% to $1797.25 an ounce in line with the risk-averse mood and just below the psychologically key $1,800 level which it fell through in the previous session.
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