Tue, 02 Mar 2021

  • European equities struggled Friday with investors awaiting US stimulus and vaccine news after holiday-thinned Asian trade.
  • London stocks firmed 0.1% and Paris turned flat as the session progressed, clawing back initial losses.
  • Bitcoin soared to a new high at $48 930 in Asian trade, after MasterCard and US bank BNY Mellon moved to make it easier for people to use the cryptocurrency.

European equities struggled Friday with investors awaiting US stimulus and vaccine news after holiday-thinned Asian trade, but bitcoin forged a new record as it crept towards $50 000.

London stocks firmed 0.1% and Paris turned flat as the session progressed, clawing back initial losses, but Frankfurt declined 0.5%.

"Recent gains brought about from US stimulus and vaccination optimism has faded to bring a more 'wait-and-see' approach from markets," said Joshua Mahony, senior analyst at online trading firm IG.

London sentiment was dented somewhat by news that the coronavirus-ravaged UK economy shrank by a record 9.9% in 2020, despite an upturn in the second half.

Bitcoin soared to a new high at $48 930 in Asian trade, after MasterCard and US bank BNY Mellon moved to make it easier for people to use the cryptocurrency.

The dollar edged higher versus both the euro and yen.

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 retreated from 13-month highs after investors were given a reality check on expectations for demand this year, despite the feeling s the global economy will see a strong recovery.

Equities have rallied this year on the back of vaccine rollouts, falling infection and death rates, and optimism Biden will push through his $1.9 trillion stimulus.

Hopes for his spending deal were given a boost Thursday by news that first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell less than estimated last week.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit records again, though the Dow was marginally lower.

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.

Source: News24

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