Global stocks pause after recent run

Global stocks pause after recent run

World shares paused on Monday as investors turned cautious after a 42 per cent surge since March, as economies continued to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Europe’s blue-chip stock index opened 0.5 per cent lower after its best weekly gain in more than eight years. The index was dragged down by healthcare and tech stocks, which were resilient throughout the coronavirus crisis.

US S&P 500 futures inched 0.1 per cent lower, giving up most of the gains made earlier in the day. Asia shares rose in a catch-up rally following Friday’s U.S. jobs data, which showed a surprising recovery, raising hopes of a quicker global economic revival from the coronavirus pandemic.

Gains in Asia were capped as a Chinese trade data published on Sunday showed exports contracted in May as global lockdowns continued to weaken demand. A bigger-than-expected fall in imports pointed to mounting pressure on manufacturers as world growth stalled.

“European stocks are probably under pressure following weak China data overnight. However, we do not think this marks the end of the rally,” said Marija Vertimane, senior strategist at State Street Global Markets.

“We are beginning to see evidence of economic data improving gradually and thankfully no major secondary spikes in infections. We expect that to encourage investors to come back to the market.”

The MSCI all-country world stocks index, which covers 49 markets around the world, is now 7% away from a record high. Wall Street’s fear gauge remained pinned below 30 points in June on encouraging economic data and central bank stimulus.

The U.S. Labor Department’s closely watched employment report showed an unexpected drop in the jobless rate to 13.3 per cent last month from 14.7 per cent in April, a post-World War Two high.

The data raised hopes of a quick economic recovery as governments worldwide ease social curbs aimed at stemming the virus.

The jobs data also pushed up U.S. bond yields, with the 10-year Treasuries yield rising as high as 0.959 per cent on Friday, a level not seen since mid-March. It last stood at 0.929 per cent.

The gains in US bond yields over the past couple of days put more focus on the US Federal Reserve, which will hold a two-day policy meeting ending on Wednesday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said the US economy could feel the weight of the economic shutdown for more than a year.

Hopes of a quick recovery in the US could be quashed by mounting wave of protests demanding police reform after the killing of a black man in Minneapolis.

“From an economic standpoint, protests certainly add to the damage done by Covid-19, which could mean that the US might delay opening up its economy even more,” said George Lagarias, chief economist at Mazars.

In Europe, yields on top-rated German government bonds dipped but remained near the more than two-month highs hit last week after the European Central Bank expanded its emergency stimulus scheme.

Brent crude climbed 1.5 per cent to $42.93 per barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude rose 1.3 per cent to $40.08 a barrel. [O/R]

The broad improvement in sentiment weighed on the safe-haven Japanese yen, which stood at 109.5 to the dollar, near Friday’s 10-week low of 109.85.

The euro changed hands at $1.1303, after touching a three-month high of $1.1384 on Friday.