- European and US stocks edged lower on Friday over new COVID-19 cases in Europe.
- Optimism over Biden’s signing of the relief package seems to have come to an end, an analyst said.
- France and Germany are resisting imposing lockdowns even with stubbornly high infection rates.
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Global stocks dipped on Friday despite President Joe Biden signing the $1.9 trillion stimulus package into law, a day earlier than planned, as fresh concerns grew over rising COVID-19 cases in Europe.
“The Dow Jones’s stimulus-package celebrations appear like they have come to an end,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, after the S&P 500 and Dow closed Thursday’s session at record highs. “It isn’t expected to endure much of a hangover, however,” he said.
In his first prime-time address since moving to the White House, Biden said all adults in the US would be eligible to receive vaccine shots by May 1. The White House separately announced that the $1,400 stimulus checks would be sent out as early as the weekend.
UBS said it expects market conditions to remain volatile, with three main drivers supporting equities – stimulus, pandemic news, and recent inflation data.
Yields on the 10-year Treasury note rose by 7 basis points on Friday to 1.591% after spending most of Thursday’s session lower.
“We continue to see developments supporting the upside for equities,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. “As growth accelerates, we see the best performance from cyclical parts of the market, including small-caps and emerging markets.”
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank signaled on Thursday it would accelerate the pace of asset purchases to cap rising yields.
“The ECB did what was expected on policy-nothing,” said Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management. “After a slow start, they have promised to start buying bonds more quickly. Higher-yielding Euro area government bonds liked that. Other markets were indifferent.”
However, the euro seemed to have gained a “pass mark”, because the ECB didn’t increase the size of its bond-buying program and instead chose to front-load it, said Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.
The UK posted a 3.9% decline in January GDP, affected by tougher lockdown restrictions that led to shuttered businesses. That left the economy 9% smaller than what it was before the pandemic struck in March 2020, the Office for National Statistics said. But this was well above expectations for a contraction of 4.9% in the first month of the year.
London’s FTSE 100 fell 0.2%.
In Asia, China’s antitrust regulator has slapped fines on some of its biggest tech companies including Tencent and Baidu, which dented sentiment in the tech sector.