LONDON: World stocks inched higher and the dollar slipped on Monday as rising hopes of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year and a U.S. fiscal package before elections offset concern over record daily infections in Europe.
Wall Street futures rose 0.8per cent on the 33rd anniversary of the 1987 "Black Monday" crash, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 22.6per cent in one day, equivalent to a drop of about 6,500 points in the index today.
The European blue-chip stocks index was slightly positive even as new COVID-19 cases were growing at a record 150,000 a day in Europe. Parts of the UK were put into lockdown and France imposed curfews.
"I think there is a heady cocktail of vaccine optimism, good Asian data and a lack of full scale lockdowns which is helping the sentiment," said John Woolfitt, director of trading at Atlantic Capital Markets.
Trading volumes in Europe were however sharply lower due to a technical glitch at exchange operator Euronext, which led to trading activity being halted in Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon and Paris bourses.
Second wave worries and no breakthrough in the Brexit stalemate failed to curb risk appetite among investors, after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday she was optimistic about a coronavirus relief deal before Election Day.
"We’re not downgrading our economic forecasts due to the second wave and we believe markets shouldn’t be disappointed too as a second wave was expected," said Jeffrey Sacks, investment strategist at Citi Private Bank.
"The sharp economic recovery we saw in the latter part of the second quarter and early third is easing now."
Sacks however believes the slowdown in recovery will not affect markets due to continued monetary and fiscal support from central banks and governments. He remains "overweight" equities.
Boosting overall sentiment, drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Friday it could have a coronavirus vaccine ready in the United States by the end of this year.
Investors also took comfort from China's economic recovery in the third quarter as consumers shook off their coronavirus caution, although the weaker-than-expected headline growth capped stock market gains in Asia.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5per cent for a second straight day of gains, paring back following third-quarter gross domestic product data from China.
Meanwhile, separate monthly indicators pointed to an expansion in economic activity in China. Industrial output accelerated 6.9per cent in September from a year earlier, when analysts were looking for a 5.8per cent gain from a 5.6per cent rise in August.
In currency markets, the yuan soaring to a fresh 1-1/2-year high against the dollar, while the U.S. dollar slipped 0.3per cent to 93.415 against a basket of six major currencies.
The euro meanwhile traded 0.3per cent higher at US$1.1756 and the sterling rallied back to near US$1.30 levels against the dollar low on Monday. Investors cut their holdings as British and European negotiators tried to salvage post-Brexit trade talks.
"EU-UK trade talks are flirting with collapse," ANZ economists said.
"UK Prime Minister Johnson said the UK needs to prepare for a no-deal outcome, as both sides cannot agree on a Canada-style FTA. Talks resume in London on Monday, but without the political willingness to shift ground, there is little the negotiators can achieve."
In commodities, Brent crude futures slipped 24 cents to US$42.69 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures traded 0.6per cent lower at US$40.64 a barrel.
Spot gold rose 0.7per cent to US$1,912.6 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey in Sydney, editing by Larry King and Raissa Kasolowsky)