Global stocks gain as investors eye economic recovery, gold shines

The dollar index slipped 0.3 per cent, making gold more affordable for holders of other currencies, while sliding Treasury yields reduced the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-bearing gold. — Reuters pic
The dollar index slipped 0.3 per cent, making gold more affordable for holders of other currencies, while sliding Treasury yields reduced the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-bearing gold. — Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, May 4 — Gold prices rose and a gauge of global equity markets closed not far from a record high yesterday as investors bet corporate results and US data will underscore the strength of the economy’s rebound from pandemic-induced shutdowns.

The dollar eased against a basket of currencies as the yield on Treasury bonds retreated on data showing US manufacturing activity grew at a slower pace in April.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note traded 2.8 basis points lower at 1.6029 per cent after a shortage of inputs likely restrained factory output as massive fiscal stimulus and rising Covid-19 vaccinations unleashed pent-up demand.

The dollar index slipped 0.3 per cent, making gold more affordable for holders of other currencies, while sliding Treasury yields reduced the opportunity cost of holding non-interest-bearing gold.

In Europe, stocks closed higher after the European Commission outlined plans to loosen Covid-19 restrictions on tourism. Strong factory and retails sales data and a robust earnings season added to investor optimism.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed up 0.6 per cent and MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets rose 0.2 per cent to close at 703.31, about 0.7 per cent shy of a record closing high hit last week.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.7 per cent and the S&P 500 gained 0.27 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.48 per cent.

A slide in high-flying tech and related stocks — including Amazon.com Inc , Tesla Inc and Salesforce.com Inc — pressured the Nasdaq, as growth-oriented shares slid and cyclical stocks sensitive to the recovery rose.

Markets in China, Japan and Britain were closed for public holidays, keeping trading volumes thin.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 46.3 per cent in the first quarter year-over-year, almost double the rate forecast at the start of April, Refinitiv IBES data shows.

Of the 303 companies that have reported so far, 87.1 per cent have beat analyst estimates, or more than 20 percentage points above the long-term average, Refinitiv said.

German retail sales data for March came in far better than expected, underlining that a US-led economic rebound is now gaining traction elsewhere.

But some economists think businesses may be getting ahead of themselves and are being influenced more by the success and speed of Covid-19 vaccination rollouts.

“The data has been unrealistically strong in recent months — while the underlying economy is performing very well, manufacturing growth is not quite at the stratospheric levels the surveys imply,” said UBS economist Paul Donovan.

A busy week for US economic data is expected to show resounding strength, particularly for the ISM manufacturing survey and April payrolls.

Euro zone government bond yields reversed earlier gains to track US Treasuries lower on the US manufacturing activity.

German benchmark 10-year yields fell 0.3 basis point to -.207 per cent, rising earlier to their highest at -0.162 per cent since March 2020.

The rise in Germany yields accelerated last week when German inflation advanced further above the European Central Bank’s target, and US data showed economic growth sped up in the first quarter.

The euro rose 0.35 per cent to US$1.206 (RM4.95) and the Japanese yen strengthened 0.14 per cent versus the greenback at 109.10 per dollar.

Cryptocurrency ether scaled a new record high of US$3,342.81 as investors bet on increased adoption. Its 2021 gain of 356 per cent has eclipsed that of bigger rival bitcoin.

Oil rose more than 1 per cent as Chinese economic figures and the US vaccination rate pointed to a strong rebound in demand in the world’s two largest economies.

Brent crude futures settled up 80 cents at US$67.56 a barrel. US crude futures rose 91 cents to settle at US$64.49 a barrel.

US gold futures settled 1.4 per cent higher at US$1,791.80 an ounce. — Reuters

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