Global stocks mixed amid vaccine progress, rising COVID-19 cases

Global stocks mixed amid vaccine progress, rising COVID-19 cases

Saturday, November 21, 2020

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NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Global stock markets moved gingerly yesterday, with Europe posting modest gains while Wall Street dipped as traders weighed coronavirus vaccine hopes against lockdowns and the lack of a new US stimulus deal.

In Europe, both Frankfurt and Paris ended the day with a gain of 0.4 per cent, while London added 0.3 per cent.

But Wall Street ended a volatile week on a negative note, with all three indices finishing lower.

“There's the push-pull of short term versus long term and that's what investors are looking at right now,” Chris Gaffney, at TIAA Bank, said. “There are some very serious risks in the short term, especially with the lockdowns.”

Equities have garnered support from a series of upbeat coronavirus vaccine announcements.

US pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said Friday they have applied for emergency use authorisation for their coronavirus vaccine, which could come next month.

Moderna has also said trial results have shown its vaccine to be 95 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19.

“Seeing as a lot of progress has been made with respect to coronavirus drugs, it seems like a floor has been put in place under equity benchmarks now, but that could all change should the drug story get derailed,” said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

Traders have also been closely monitoring the prospects of a new deal on US stimulus materialising after the president of a regional Federal Reserve bank warned Thursday the United States could see growth contract again in the fourth quarter.

But talks still appear to be at an early phase.

Some analysts questioned a decision by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to phase out a series of Federal Reserve programmes enacted in the spring to support the corporate credit market, municipal lending and small and medium-sized businesses.

Mnuchin said he was following congressional intent in phasing out at year's end the Fed programmes, which were intended to help the US financial system weather the shock of the pandemic.

He said the funds unused by the central bank should be repurposed to other pandemic relief efforts.

But the Fed criticised the move in a rare public break with Treasury, and congressional Democrats accused Mnuchin of trying to sabotage the incoming Administration of Joe Biden.

Ending the programmes poses a “risk” for the economy, said a note from Oxford Economics.

“The emergency lending facilities have been little used, but their existence has been key in ensuring a credible safeguard against financial market stress,” Oxford said.

“With the COVID-19 crisis worsening and activity slowing in the absence of fiscal aid, the decision to curtail the Fed's firepower could unsettle markets and exacerbate economic stress.”

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