Data, lockdowns weigh on global stocks and oil; dollar rises

Stocks fell but remained close to recent record highs, with investors also digesting the prospect of rising taxes to pay for Biden’s plan. — Reuters pic
Stocks fell but remained close to recent record highs, with investors also digesting the prospect of rising taxes to pay for Biden’s plan. — Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, Jan 16 — Stock and oil prices fell yesterday, pressured by intensifying lockdowns and weak US retail sales data, while the dollar index posted its largest weekly gain in more than two months.

US bond yields and stocks have risen recently, partly on expectations about the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and on a massive stimulus plan by the incoming Democratic administration. President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a US$1.9 trillion (RM7.67 trillion) economic aid plan.

But vaccination campaigns have progressed more slowly than expected and the prospect of stricter lockdowns in France and Germany, as well as a resurgence of Covid-19 cases in China, weighed on market sentiment.

“I feel that after all the optimism regarding vaccines, we are now living the reality of a very slow rollout, which is weighing heavily on business activity,” said Juan Perez, senior currency trader at Tempus Inc in Washington.

“Until we have more guarantees on the medical front, markets will not continue to flourish despite whatever financial aid may be on the way,” Perez said.

The dollar gained ground against the euro and sterling, while the yen was little changed.

Stocks fell but remained close to recent record highs, with investors also digesting the prospect of rising taxes to pay for Biden’s plan.

“Spending is easy to do but the question is how are you going to pay for it? Markets often ignore politics but they don’t often ignore taxes,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 177.26 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 30,814.26, the S&P 500 lost 27.29 points, or 0.72 per cent, to 3,768.25 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 114.14 points, or 0.87 per cent, to 12,998.50.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.01 per cent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.86 per cent.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.93 per cent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.67 per cent lower, while Nikkei futures lost 2.01 per cent.

Yields were also pressured lower by a weaker-than-expected reading in US retail sales.

“This morning’s disappointing retail sales figures reinforced the idea that more stimulus will be needed,” said Ian Lyngen, head of US rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

US 10-year notes last rose 13/32 in price to yield 1.0852 per cent, from 1.129 per cent late on Thursday.

Despite the weekly dip in the benchmark yield, it was set to close a second week above 1 per cent, a streak not seen since before the lockdowns took hold early last year.

Oil prices fell sharply on concerns that demand would be lower as Covid-19 continues to rage globally.

“The recent resurgence in coronavirus infections, appearance of new variants, delayed vaccine rollouts and renewed lockdown measures in most major OECD economies has clouded the economic and demand recovery,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.

US crude recently fell 2.73 per cent to US$52.11 per barrel and Brent was at US$54.87, down 2.75 per cent on the day.

The dollar index rose 0.573 per cent, with the euro down 0.68 per cent to US$1.2073, while sterling was last trading at US$1.3585, down 0.75 per cent on the day.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.07 per cent versus the greenback at 103.88 per dollar.

Spot gold dropped 1.1 per cent to US$1,826.59 an ounce. Silver fell 3.11 per cent to US$24.74.

Bitcoin last fell 7.59 per cent to US$36,164.50. — Reuters

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