Business

Global equities markets rise on better outlook, dollar gains

Global equities rallied for a fourth day of gains on Thursday as signs of a stable U.S. labor market, a revitalized dollar and rising bond yields turned attention to economies on the mend rather than the recent trading feud sparked by retail investors.

Longer-term U.S. Treasury yields rose in anticipation of a large pandemic relief bill from Washington, while the dollar climbed toward a fifth straight daily gain on a possibly stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report on Friday.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 surged before the bell to set record closing highs, and the dollar increased gains late in the session.

Expectations of more stimulus, low interest rates and news that British researchers plan to use the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to find ways to reduce coronavirus variants are pushing equities higher, said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

“Extremely low interest rates that continue despite heavy government spending and deficits are leaving investors with a feeling it’s slanted toward an upward market,” he said.

On Wall Street, advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE and Nasdaq by a ratio of at least 2.5-to-1. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.08%, the S&P 500 gained 1.09% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.23%.

Weekly U.S. jobless claims showed at least 17.8 million Americans received benefits in mid-January, suggesting long-term unemployment was entrenched and could boost President Joe Biden’s push for Congress to pass his $1.9 trillion relief bill.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets rose 0.56% to 666.67, 0.6% shy of a peak set two weeks ago.

The main indexes for bourses in London, Frankfurt and Paris edged up, helped by an agreement late Wednesday by Germany’s ruling coalition on additional measures to support those hit hard financially by the pandemic. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.60% and Germany’s DAX rose 0.91% to a one-month high.

The British pound dived as much as half a percent on the possibility the Bank of England would endorse negative interest rates. But sterling turned positive after the bank indicated it would not take that position for at least six months, if at all.

Sterling was last trading at $1.3673, up 0.21%.

The dollar index rose 0.498%, with the euro down 0.59% to $1.1963. The Japanese yen weakened 0.48% versus the greenback at 105.53 per dollar.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose about 1 basis point to 1.1409%, while Germany’s 30-year government bond yield climbed back in positive territory at 0.006% for the first time since September.

Market gauges of future euro zone inflation were at their highest since May 2019, while the gap between two- and 10-year Treasury yields, at more than 100 basis points, was the widest in almost three years. That is seen as another key indicator of an approaching economic recovery.

Markets eased a bit overnight in Asia. MSCI’s ex-Japan Asian-Pacific index fell 0.57%, led by 1.35% and 0.44% drops in South Korea and China.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei lost 1.1%, ending a three-day winning streak.

Gold dropped more than 2% to break below the key $1,800 psychological level as a jump in the dollar and Treasury yields eroded bullion’s appeal. U.S. gold futures settled down 2.4% at $1,791.20 an ounce.

Silver dropped 2.3% to $26.26 an ounce.

Oil rose on strong U.S. economic data, falling inventories and a decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and producer allies to stick to its output cuts. But a stronger dollar limited price gains.

Brent crude futures settled up 38 cents at $58.84 a barrel. U.S. crude futures added 54 cents to settle at $56.23 a barrel.