World stocks end stellar quarter but still down in 2020

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.08 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 25,812.88, the S&P 500 gained 47.05 points, or 1.54 per cent, to 3,100.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 184.61 points, or 1.87 per cent, to 10,058.77. — AFP pic
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.08 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 25,812.88, the S&P 500 gained 47.05 points, or 1.54 per cent, to 3,100.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 184.61 points, or 1.87 per cent, to 10,058.77. — AFP pic

NEW YORK, July 1 ― A global stocks index rose yesterday and marked its largest quarterly gain since 2009 as investors continued to look for signs of an economic recovery while shrugging off data showing a rising number of Covid-19 cases.

The possible return of Libyan oil production, which has been at a trickle since the start of the year, weighed on crude prices.

World shares rose 18.7 per cent this quarter, the biggest quarterly gain in 11 years, but are still down more than 7 per cent so far this year due to a slump of 34 per cent between February 12 and March 23.

The recent gains come as the coronavirus-related lockdowns that paralysed the global economy in the first quarter started to lift and investors bet on pent-up demand powering economies higher.

US consumer confidence rose more than expected in June, following upbeat housing data on Monday.

Covid-19 cases in the United States and globally continue to rise, however. Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US epidemiologist, told a Senate committee yesterday that unless Americans wear masks and recommit to social distancing, the daily case-load could reach 100,000 from the current 40,000.

Some traders said quarter-end flows were also supportive of stock prices. Following a steep drop in February and March, Wall Street's S&P 500 ended June with its largest quarterly gain since 1998.

“We are finishing up one of the best quarters in history, so we wouldn't be surprised to see a little bit of window dressing taking place on the last day,” said Sal Bruno, chief investment officer at IndexIQ in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 217.08 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 25,812.88, the S&P 500 gained 47.05 points, or 1.54 per cent, to 3,100.29 and the Nasdaq Composite added 184.61 points, or 1.87 per cent, to 10,058.77.

The near 20 per cent quarterly increase on the S&P 500 was its largest since late 1998.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.13 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1.04 per cent.

Emerging market stocks rose 0.11 per cent. Overnight, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.67 per cent higher, while Japan's Nikkei futures lost 0.09 per cent.

Brent crude slipped as traders took profits from the previous session and Libya's state oil company flagged progress in talks to resume exports, potentially boosting supply.

US crude fell 0.18 per cent to US$39.63 (RM169.83) per barrel and Brent was at US$41.14, down 1.37 per cent on the day.

The dollar index was in and out of negative territory as upbeat US and Chinese data left traders torn between optimism about global growth and fears that the surge in new Covid-19 cases could jeopardize the rebound.

The dollar index fell 0.043 per cent, with the euro down 0.06 per cent to US$1.1233.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.34 per cent versus the greenback at 107.94 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at US$1.2398, up 0.83 per cent on the day.

Beijing unveiled the national security law it is imposing on Hong Kong, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony's way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

“This doesn't improve Hong Kong's status as a financial center, to say the least, coming back from the protests and the virus over the last year,” said Ilan Solot, FX strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in London. “If anything this is a downward slope for Hong Kong's importance as a global financial hub.” ― Reuters

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