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Global shares hit fresh peak, oil up on Middle East tensions


FEBRUARY 15, 2021

FILE PHOTO: Plastic bull figurines, symbols of the Frankfurt stock exchange are pictured at the Frankfurt stock exchange. – Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – Global shares rose for the 11th day in a row to reach a fresh peak on optimism about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and new fiscal aid from Washington, while tensions in the Middle East drove oil to a 13-month high.

As more people are vaccinated across key markets such as the United States, and with U.S. President Joe Biden looking to pump an extra $1.9 trillion in stimulus into the economy, the so-called reflation trade has gathered steam in recent days.

On Friday, The Cboe Volatility Index, known as Wall Street’s “fear gauge”, ended at its lowest level for nearly a year, helping drive a 0.4% gain for MSCI’s broadest measure of world stocks on Monday.

Men holding umbrellas walk in front of an electric board showing Nikkei index at a brokerage in Tokyo. – Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON

Taking its cue from a stronger, albeit holiday-thinned, Asian session, Europe’s major indexes were a sea of green in early deals, with Britain’s FTSE 100 up 1.5%.

With China and Hong Kong markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, Japan’s Nikkei led the way, climbing 1.9% to reclaim the 30,000-point level for the first time in more than three decades.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were also higher, up 0.4%, although U.S. stock markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

Later in the week, all eyes will be on the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s January meeting, where policymakers decided to leave rates unchanged, for hints to the likely direction of monetary policy.

Those concerned about the impact of market exuberance on the outlook for inflation will also have fresh data to parse, with Britain, Canada and Japan all due to report. Friday will also see major economies, including the United States, release preliminary February purchasing managers’ indexes (PMI).

FILE PHOTO: Screen displays recent Nikkei share average movements outside a brokerage in Tokyo. – Reuters/ISSEI KATO

“We believe investors should prepare for bouts of volatility ahead, but regard them as opportunities rather than threats,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. “We recommend investors stick to their long-term financial plans, and continue to put excess cash to work.”

Oil joined equity markets in pushing higher, reaching its highest level since January 2020 on hopes U.S. stimulus will boost the economy and fuel demand and after a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it intercepted an explosive-laden drone fired by the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

Brent crude rose 1.3% to $63.24 a barrel. U.S. crude oil gained 1.8% to $60.54, just off earlier highs.

With risk assets in favour, safe havens dipped, with gold down 0.2% to $1,819 an ounce. Germany’s 10-year Bund yield rose 4 basis points to a 5 1/2-month high at -0.376% and 30-year bond yields, up 20 bps so far this month, rose to an eight-month high at 0.13%. They had traded in negative yield territory earlier this month.

The dollar remained near two-week lows as traders took a more cautious view of the pace of the U.S. economy’s rebound. Against a basket of currencies it was last down around 0.1%.

Bitcoin, meanwhile, recovered some of its overnight weakness to trade down 1.4% at $47,984.96, below a record high of $49,714.66.

Courtesy/Source: Reuters


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