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World stocks take fresh dip as COVID infection rate weighs

World stocks take fresh dip as COVID infection rate weighs

FILE PHOTO: Traders looks at financial information on computer screens on the IG Index trading floor in London, Britain February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

LONDON: World stocks fell further and oil headed for a double-digit weekly slide on Friday as jitters over a rising global COVID-19 infection rate and next week's U.S. presidential election more than offset strong euro zone quarterly growth data.

A strong central bank-fuelled bounce back from the initial pandemic slide earlier in the year has faltered this week, with concerns about an even worse second wave of infections, particularly in Europe, taking the froth off markets.

"The US election, the extent of further lockdown measures, Brexit negotiations and vaccine news all present both upside and downside risks over the coming weeks and it is understandable that investors may want to proceed with caution," said Mark Dowding, chief investment officer at BlueBay Asset Management.

World stocks were down 0.2per cent at 1103 GMT, tracking weakness in Asia, while U.S. stock futures were down 0.8per cent to 1per cent, pointing to a lower open on Wall Street. Gold rose, with spot prices climbing 0.6per cent to US$1,878 an ounce.

In Europe, the blue-chip EuroSTOXX 50 recovered early losses to trade flat after strong regional growth numbers, but is on track for a weekly loss of 6.7per cent and remains around levels last seen in late May.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan closed down 1.2per cent for a 2.2per cent weekly loss, breaking four straight weeks of gains.

"New lockdowns across Europe are being harshly repriced by markets," Barclays equity strategist Emmanuel Cau said in a note to clients.

"With complacency going fast, this dip could end up offering another good entry point, but a lot depends on the election outcome and timing of the results."

European government bond yields rose slightly in response to fresh COVID restrictions across the continent, with Italian, Spanish and German 10-year debt yields all up around 1 basis point.

Brent crude gave up intra-morning gains to trade down 0.2per cent, broadly in line with its U.S. peer , facing weekly losses of around 10per cent.

That in turn led to a broad sell-off of commodity linked currencies including the Russian rouble , Norwegian crown and Canadian dollar , which was facing its worst week since April.

Graphic: Stocks, oil vs coronavirus cases cent20imageper cent201604051261032.png

The slight recovery in European stock markets followed a strong euro zone quarterly GDP print - up 12.7per cent -, one day after the European Central Bank pledged more help for the economy when it next meets in December to help counter the potential economic hit from the pandemic.

Societe Generale FX analyst Kit Juckes said that given the recent imposition of a fresh lock-down in France, the positive growth data there - an 18.2per cent quarter-on-quarter jump - was not enough to outweigh the virus concerns.

This week has seen global coronavirus cases rise by over 500,000 for the first time, with France and Germany preparing fresh lockdowns.

In response, analysts expect an expansion and extension of the ECB's Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme, a lower deposit facility rate, and even more generous lending terms for banks in December.

This saw the euro slide to a four-week low of US$0.1648 before recovering slightly on Friday to trade at US$1.1672, down around 0.4per cent since the start of the month.

The dollar index , meanwhile, held steady, bolstered by a solid session on Wall Street overnight after some strong tech sector earnings and data showing the U.S. economy grew at a record annualised pace of 33.1per cent in the third quarter.

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Olga Cotaga in London; Editing by William Maclean and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: Reuters


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