Global stocks hit record peak on economic recovery hopes - GulfToday

Global stocks hit record peak on economic recovery hopes


People walk past shops in the Chinatown area of Singapore on Monday. Agence France-Presse

Global shares rose to just shy of record highs, as optimism over a $1.9 trillion US stimulus plan outweighed increasing COVID-19 cases and delays in vaccine supplies.

MSCI’s All Country World index, which tracks stocks across 49 countries, was up 0.2% on the day.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 gained 0.3%, indicating gains on Wall Street.

Global equity markets have scaled record highs in recent days on bets COVID-19 vaccines will start to reduce infection rates worldwide and on a stronger US economic recovery under President Joe Biden.

European stock markets opened higher, but fell back by midday in London with the pan-European STOXX 600 flat. The continent’s 50 biggest stocks fell 0.25%.

A rally in US tech stocks to near record highs on Friday helped fuel gains in their counterparts in Asia and Europe. A European basket of tech stocks gained 1.2%. In Asia, Chinese tech giant Tencent soared 11%.

Investors are also wary about towering valuations amid questions over the efficiency of the vaccines in curbing the pandemic and as U.S. lawmakers continue to debate a coronavirus aid package.

All eyes are on Washington as US lawmakers agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority even as they locked horns over the size of the US pandemic relief package. Financial markets have been eyeing a massive package, though disagreements have meant months of indecision in a country suffering more than 175,000 COVID-19 cases a day with millions out of work.

Global COVID-19 cases are inching towards 100 million with more than 2 million dead.

Despite the recent outperformance in tech stocks, investors have reiterated views that cyclical and value stocks will outperform as economies recover.

“While renewed lockdowns and mobility restrictions around the world have supported 2020 stay-home beneficiaries, we do not think the rotation into cyclicals is over,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.

Haefele said a broadening economic recovery, a normalization of economic activity as vaccination programmes continue, and attractive valuations for emerging-market stocks relative to developed markets were reasons for UBS shifting its preference to emerging markets.

On Friday, the Dow fell 0.57%, the S&P 500 lost 0.30% and the Nasdaq added 0.09%. The three main U.S. indexes closed higher for the week, with the Nasdaq rising over 4%.

“Small/Mid (SMID) cap earnings were more impacted by the pandemic, and we project an earnings rebound more than 2x larger than the S&P 500,” said BoFA strategists in a note.

“Historically, when Democrats control both the White House and Congress, SMID-cap returns have exceeded large cap. Also, SMID-caps are more domestically-oriented, which should benefit from on-shoring and infrastructure spending.”

Sentiment in Asia was boosted by a report that China had surpassed the United States to be the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020 with $163 billion in inflows.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.2% to 727.24, close to last week’s record high of 727.31.

The benchmark is up nearly 9% so far in January, on track for its fourth straight monthly rise.

Japan’s Nikkei rebounded from falls in early trading to be up 0.7%.

Australian shares added 0.4% after the country’s drug regulator approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine with a phased rollout likely late next month.

Chinese shares rose, with the blue-chip CSI300 index up 1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index leapt 2.4% led by technology stocks.

The dollar traded flat against a basket of currencies at 90.228. Major currency trading pairs were trapped in a tight range as markets awaited the Federal Reserve’s Wednesday meeting.

The euro was lower 0.1% at $1.2160, while sterling was last up 0.1% at $1.3688. The Japanese yen was last a touch lower at 103.80 per dollar.

In commodities, Brent gained 0.5% to $55.71 a barrel and U.S. crude rose 0.6% to $52.67.

Gold rose 0.5% to $1,860 an ounce.

Nasdaq futures jumped on Monday as markets geared up for a busy week of earnings from mega-cap technology companies, against the backdrop of rising hopes for a fiscal package from the Biden administration.

The so-called “stay-at-home” winners including Microsoft Corp, Facebook Inc and Apple Inc rose between 1.4% and 2.2% in premarket trading, as investors were optimistic of their earnings reports following upbeat results from Netflix Inc last week.

Microsoft, scheduled to report results on Tuesday, rose 1.5% as Wedbush raised its price target on the software maker’s stock on expectations of further growth in its cloud business for 2021.

Officials in President Joe Biden’s administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive, even as lawmakers from both parties agreed that getting the COVID-19 vaccine to Americans should be a priority.

“Expectations of substantial fiscal aid are keeping the bulls in charge,” said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM.


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