February 12, 2021: European stocks gained and US equities were hesitant Friday as investors awaited further stimulus and vaccine news, while bitcoin slipped back from record highs to below $48,000.
In equities, Paris posted gains of 0.6 percent and London 0.9 heading into the weekend, although Frankfurt was near flat at the close.
Markets around the world are “remaining buoyed by the recent rally that has been fueled by Covid-19 vaccine rollout progress and elevated expectations that the US will deliver further fiscal relief,” Charles Schwab analysts commented.
Equities have rallied this year on the back of vaccine rollouts, falling infection and death rates, and optimism that US President Joe Biden will push through his $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
But London sentiment was dented Friday by news that the coronavirus-ravaged UK economy shrank by a record 9.9 percent in 2020, despite an upturn in the second half.
Across the Atlantic, US stocks were “pausing near record highs”, Schwab added, with the blue-chip Dow close to flat while the broader S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite each nudged up around 0.1 percent.
Bitcoin had touched a new high of $48,930 in Asian trade after MasterCard and US bank BNY Mellon moved Thursday to make it easier for people to use the cryptocurrency, only to trade over $1,000 lower around 1700 GMT Friday.
“Bitcoin had a great week” thanks in part to the institutional backing, OANDA analyst Edward Moya said, but “the key for Bitcoin's path higher is to win over more corporate endorsements”.
“Massive weekend moves” nevertheless remain possible for the historically volatile cryptocurrency, he added.
Axi analyst Stephen Innes noted that the earnings season has gone well in the US and Europe, while the number of Covid-19 infections has been dropping faster than in previous waves.
But he added that “investors need some good old proof in the economic pudding before taking that next leap of faith.”
Markets were awaiting a virtual meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of Seven rich nations to discuss pandemic fallout, climate change and digital taxation.
Britain joins Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States for the group's first gathering since Joe Biden was elected US president.
Elsewhere, oil prices were on the up even as uncertainty persists over how far demand will recover from last year's plunge.
With the newly-vaccinated eager to travel, “the crude demand outlook looks like it could get its best-case scenario as Americans who want a Covid vaccine will be able to get it by April”, OANDA's Moya said.
With most of Asia closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, business was limited. Tokyo and Wellington both fell, while Sydney was also hit by news of snap virus lockdown in Melbourne.
– Key figures around 1330 GMT –
- London – FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 6,589.79 points (close)
- Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP less than 0.1 percent at 14,049.89 (close)
- Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 5,703.67 (close)
- EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 3,695.61
- New York – Dow: FLAT at 31,435.54
- Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent to 29,520.07 (close)
- Sydney – S&P/ASX 200: DOWN 0.6 percent to 6,806.70 (close)
- Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a holiday
- Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for a holiday
- Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2128 from $1.2130 at 2200 GMT
- Dollar/yen: UP at 104.94 yen from 104.75 yen
- Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3855 from $1.3816
- Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.53 pence from 87.79 pence
- Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.1 percent at $62.40 per barrel
- West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.0 percent at $59.43