Stocks slip as infections overshadow vaccine hopes

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Stocks slip as infections overshadow vaccine hopes

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

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NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Global equity markets fell back yesterday as hopes that COVID-19 vaccines will soon be rolled out were overshadowed by fears of a coming surge in US cases.

Oil prices remained under pressure as traders monitored an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Vienna amid worries producers won't reach an agreement on an extension of the output cuts that have provided support for most of the year.

World markets have surged this month thanks to breakthroughs on vaccines, while investors have also been cheered by Joe Biden's US presidential election win and signs that incumbent Donald Trump will allow a smooth transfer of power, despite claims of voter fraud.

But Wall Street lost steam after recent record highs as the Dow gave up 0.9 per cent. The blue-chip index posted a nearly 12 per cent gain for all of November, making it the best month since January 1987.

Earlier, Frankfurt's DAX, having enjoyed a 15 per cent rise on vaccine optimism across the month, limited its fall to 0.3 per cent.

With at least three vaccines in the pipeline and approval in some countries said to be just weeks away, there is optimism on trading floors as dealers forecast an economic rebound next year.

“Vaccines offer the promise that the major disruptions of the pandemic will fade from the scene in 2021,” said Axi strategist Stephen Innes. “Economic life will gradually heal; the world will start to move on from all the human suffering that the virus has wrought.”

Indications that a surge in new infections in Europe looks to be slowing were also providing some hope, as Britain and France prepare to ease some of their lockdown restrictions.

However, Trump's top infectious diseases expert warned of a fresh jump in cases in the coming weeks after millions of Americans ignored scientific advice and travelled around the country for Thanksgiving.

“There almost certainly is going to be an uptick because of what has happened with the travel,” Anthony Fauci told CNN's State of the Union.

“We may see a surge upon a surge” in two or three weeks in the run-up to Christmas, Fauci said.

Parts of Asia are also seeing new spikes, with Hong Kong leaders warning the city is entering a fourth wave, while containment measures have been introduced in South Korea and Japan.

Asian markets dropped at the start of the week, Hong Kong leading the losses with a 2.1 per cent slide.

The pound rose against the dollar as Britain and the European Union try to hammer out a post-Brexit trade deal, with just weeks to go before the end of the transition period.


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