Equity markets rebound on EU optimism; gold edges higher - GulfToday

Equity markets rebound on EU optimism; gold edges higher


A man walks past a bank’s board showing the share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Monday. Associated Press

Global equity markets rebounded on Monday on optimism the European Union would agree on a recovery fund to help revive regional economies hit by the coronavirus, but worries about the pandemic’s economic and human toll pushed gold prices higher.

The euro rose after a bout of profit-taking on early gains that took the single currency to a 19-week high on hopes for an EU fund expected to be around 750 billion euros ($857.93 billion).

European shares advanced on hopes for the recovery fund, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose, led by technology stocks.

News that AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine was safe and produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials in healthy volunteers helped lift equities, but it was still too early to call the drug a success.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets rose 0.49%. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.28%, the S&P 500 gained 0.27% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.35%.

In Europe, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.73%. AstraZeneca’s shares rose 1.8% after hitting a record high ahead of a report on its vaccine.

The euro was up 0.14%, at $1.1442, while the yen gained 0.20%, to $107.2000.

The euro hit its highest against the dollar since March 9, at $1.1467 after reports of progress following three days of negotiations. Gold prices jumped to their highest since September 2011 and silver hit a more-than-four-year peak as a spike in COVID-19 infections and hopes for increased stimulus measures supported safe-haven demand.

Spot gold prices rose $6.7542 to $1,815.65 an ounce.

Oil prices fell as coronavirus cases increased in many countries, though investor optimism about a potential COVID-19 vaccine and ongoing talks over the European Union fund to revive economies hit by the pandemic curbed losses.

Brent crude futures rose $0.02 to $43.16 a barrel. US crude futures gained $0.08, to $40.67 a barrel.

Earlier in Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.26%, reversing early losses.

Chinese markets rose more than 2% after regulators raised the equity investment cap for insurers and encouraged mergers and acquisitions among brokerages and mutual fund houses.

EU optimistic on deal: European Union leaders said on Monday they were cautiously optimistic that agreement on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies was within reach, but tensions between them remained high after days of summit squabbling.

Slow to coordinate their initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic and already weakened by Britain’s departure from the bloc, a deal on the economic aid plan would demonstrate that Europeans can step up to a crisis and remain united.

“It has been a long summit and a challenging summit but the prize is worth negotiating for,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said as the Brussels summit dragged into its fourth day — approaching the record length set at a 2000 meeting in the French city of Nice.

Summit chair Charles Michel had urged leaders on Sunday to achieve a “mission impossible”, reminding them that more than 600,000 people had now died from COVID-19 around the world.

However, diplomats said it was far from certain that the leaders could put aside the rancour that stood in the way of a compromise over hours of haggling through the weekend, and one said negotiations could run deep into Monday night.

Indeed, a session of all 27 leaders scheduled for Monday afternoon was delayed by two hours to 6:00pm (1600 GMT).

Emotions ran high at a dinner on Sunday as a group of fiscally frugal northern nations led by the Netherlands stood their ground on the level of free grants within a proposed special recovery fund of 750 billion euros overall.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki railed against the ‘frugals’ before negotiations resumed on Monday, branding them “a group of stingy, egotistic states that look at things very narrowly through the prism of their own interests”. Poland would be one of the top beneficiaries of the recovery package, receiving tens of billions of euros in grants and cheap loans, along with high-debt Mediterranean-rim countries that have taken the brunt of the pandemic in Europe.

Despite the rhetorical skirmishing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the leaders now had a new basis for a deal on the stimulus package and, linked to it, the EU’s 2021-2027 common budget of around 1.1 trillion euros.

“We worked out a framework for a possible agreement last night after long negotiations,” she told reporters. “This is progress and gives hope that an agreement can be reached today.” French President Emmanuel Macron lost patience in the early hours of Monday and banged his fist on the table in frustration at “sterile blockages” by the ‘frugals’, two diplomats said. But by daylight, he shared Merkel’s optimism, telling reporters: “I’m starting today with a lot of determination to make progress.” Hopes for a deal to help address Europe’s deepest recession since World War Two sent Italy’s borrowing costs to their lowest since early March and pushed the euro to a 19-week high. Diplomats said that within the 750 billion euro recovery fund, 390 billion could be considered as non-repayable grants, a compromise between the 350 billion level of the ‘frugals’ and the 400 billion demanded by France and Germany.


Related articles