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Global Stocks Trade Near Record Highs, but Surging COVID-19 Cases Hit Oil

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Global stocks held near record highs on Monday, while oil prices fell in response to rising Covid-19 cases in key consuming countries and related concerns about economic recovery in Asia.

US futures held flat. Nasdaq futures were last down 0.09%, S&P 500 futures were up 0.01% and Dow Jones futures were up 0.12%. 

US investors are expecting a flurry of earnings and economic policy announcements this week.

Federal Reserve
Chairman Jerome Powell is due to give a press conference on Wednesday when the central bank concludes a two-day monetary policy meeting. Economists are not expecting significant changes, but investors will nonetheless scour every word for insight into the likely path of interest rates.

“The April FOMC meeting should primarily serve as a barometer check of the economic recovery relative to the substantial forecast upgrades the Committee unveiled at their last meeting in March.” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi said. “He’s likely to continue his subtle shift in tone about the outlook in a more promising direction,” Innes added. 

President Joe Biden will be delivering his first speech in a joint congressional session on Wednesday, where he will likely shed further light on his infrastructure spending plans. Investors will also get the first glimpse of how the US economy fared in the first three months of the year later this week.

US 10-year Treasury note yield rose to 1.577%, up 1.3 basis points. 

Asian markets came under pressure from the surge in COVID-19 cases in India and elsewhere across the continent. China’s Shanghai Composite closed 0.95% down, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 0.4% at the end of the trading day. 

The Japanese Nikkei 225 continued to recover after last week’s mixed performance linked to lockdown extensions in the country and closed 0.36% up. The Bank of Japan is set to release rate decisions and its quarterly outlook on Tuesday, although no significant policy changes are expected. 

Concern about the economic impact of another wave of Covid-19 also impacted oil prices. WTI crude oil prices were last down 1.14% and Brent crude oil was down 1.16% on Monday. Cases in India, the third largest oil consumer in the world, rose at record rates this weekend, leaving families of patients scrambling for hospital beds and oxygen. 

“There have been reports that’s various models are predicting this could hit over 500,000 per day this week which will gain huge headlines. While Indian case loads are so high, there will be concerns about the unevenness of the global recovery and the ability of variants to escape,” Deutsche Bank research strategists said. 

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission said fully vaccinated Americans could travel to the European Union this summer, potentially providing some impetus for the long-haul travel and energy sectors, but this was not enough to prop up crude oil.

European stocks started flat on Monday, the pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 was last up 0.04%, the UK’s FTSE 100 was down 0.07% and the German DAX was up 0.14%. 

Bitcoin recovered over the weekend and rose above $50,000 again, after a highly volatile week which saw the cryptocurrency reach record highs paired and lose significant ground. It was last valued at $52,772.93 on Monday. 

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