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Stocks trade around record level; dollar slips: markets wrap

Oil traded above $60 a barrel.
Image: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Most Asian stocks rose Wednesday following gains in US equities and bonds, as investors shrugged off a higher-than-forecast rise in US inflation to focus on upcoming earnings and the global recovery.

Hong Kong’s benchmark outperformed and tech stocks lifted China, but shares dipped in Japan amid concerns about the slow vaccine rollout. A gauge of global stocks climbed toward record levels.

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European contracts advanced and US equity futures were steady following all-time highs for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indexes. The White House said the US inoculation campaign remains on track despite a pause in Johnson & Johnson doses amid health concerns.

Treasuries held most of their climb after a successful sale of 30-year bonds. The US dollar added to the prior session’s losses and gains in New Zealand’s dollar led major peers. Oil traded above $60 a barrel.

The latest data showing US consumer prices rose more than expected last month have had little impact given the distortions surrounding the year-earlier collapse in price pressures. Investors still appear confident that the recovery remains on track with support from central banks and government spending.

“A lot of growth and inflation have already been priced into the market,” said Emily Roland, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management. “It’s almost as if you need to exceed those expectations in order to see a more pronounced reaction from markets.”

Runaway inflation, along with higher borrowing costs and taxes, have replaced the pandemic as the top concerns for global fund managers, according to the latest Bank of America Corp. survey.

Meanwhile, Asia’s credit markets steadied after pressure from a sharp selloff in one of China’s largest bad-debt managers. Tencent is holding off marketing a planned dollar bond deal Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter.

Bitcoin jumped to an all-time high, as did Ether, the second-largest digital token. The Nasdaq set a reference price of $250 for the direct listing of Coinbase Global Inc., the cryptocurrency exchange that starts trading Wednesday.

Some key events to watch this week:

  • Banks and financial firms begin reporting first-quarter earnings, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
  • Economic Club of Washington hosts Fed Chair Jerome Powell for a moderated Q&A on Wednesday.
  • US Federal Reserve releases Beige Book on Wednesday.
  • US data including initial jobless claims, industrial production and retail sales come Thursday.
  • China economic growth, industrial production and retail sales figures are on Friday.

These are some of the main moves in financial markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures were up 0.1% as of 7:10 a.m. in London. The index closed 0.3% higher.
  • Japan’s Topix Index was 0.3% lower.
  • The Shanghai Composite was up 0.7%.
  • The Hang Seng rose 1.4%.
  • South Korea’s Kospi Index edged up 0.6%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was 0.7% higher.
  • Euro Stoxx 50 futures increased 0.3%.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index edged down 0.1%.
  • The yen was up 0.2% at 108.86 per dollar.
  • The euro inched up 0.1% to $1.1965.
  • The offshore yuan traded around 6.5418 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose a basis point to 1.62% after slipping in US trade.
  • Australia’s 10-year yield was five basis points lower at 1.76%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.4% to $60.99 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1 746.25 an ounce.
© 2021 Bloomberg

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