© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians and a traffic light stop sign are reflected on a quotation board in Tokyo, Japan February 26, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
By Marc Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Markets were in their comfort zone on Tuesday, with world stocks hovering just off record highs, the dollar lifted by upcoming inflation data and the main volatility gauges all looking reassuringly calm.
There was some pressure on sterling as the British government considered whether to delay removing most of its remaining coronavirus restrictions and oil was in the doldrums, but both looked like being temporary at worst.
London’s was up 0.3% in line with the pan-European . MSCI’s 50-country world index was flush to its latest record high and Wall Street futures were steady after its tech titans shrugged at global plans to tax them more over the weekend.
In the bond markets, government bond yields were edging lower ahead of a policy meeting of the European Central Bank (ECB) and U.S. inflation data, both due on Thursday.
Recent comments have suggested that the ECB has no plans to start reeling in its mass stimulus programme any time soon, while the U.S. May consumer price index print will be closely watched ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting next week.
“I would expect the ECB to maintain a dovish stance as they would not be want to be seen as moving towards tapering at the moment,” said Lombard Odier’s head of FX strategy Vasileios Gkionakis.
He also added that while the U.S. inflation figure will be high because it will compare to last year’s COVID slump, the Fed would see it as “transitory and look through it.”
The U.S. dollar did look to have found some support again though having been sapped by last week’s softer-than-expected payrolls data.
The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies stood at 90.100, up fractionally on the day and off the 4 1/2-month low of 89.533 touched late last month. It has been idling around there while investors try to gauge the U.S. recovery and policy response.
“Worries remain that the Fed may start discussing tapering asset purchases at next week’s FOMC meeting,” said Philip Wee, an FX strategist at Singapore’s DBS Bank. “More so after U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s comment that higher U.S. interest rates would be good for the economy.”
In a weekend interview, Yellen had said slightly higher rates “would actually be a plus for society’s point of view and the Fed’s point of view”.
TESLA ON THE CHARGE
Share in electric carmaker Tesla rose 2.6% in pre-Wall Street trade after data from Beijing showed its Chinese sales – which make up a third of the firm’s total sales – had seen a 29% leap last month.
The data had also showed China’s overnall new electric vehicle sales had surged 177% compared to a year ago.
Back in Europe, sterling dropped as low as $1.4129 on the uncertainty over COVID-19 restrictions’ removal. The British government had planned to lift almost all remaining restrictions but has seen case numbers start to rise again over the last couple of weeks.
“The world wants to get itself short sterling,” said Societe Generale (PA:)’s Kit Juckes. “I don’t think it will last, a two-week delay to easing restrictions, that really is very temporary.”
A far broader trend saw overall currency market volatility fall to its lowest since the peak of COVID angst last March. The equity market’s so-called “fear gauge”, the , was not far off either.
Overnight in Asia, Tokyo’s had inched down 0.2% as losses in market heavyweights offset gains for drugmakers after Eisai Co’s Alzheimer drug had received U.S. regulatory approval.
China’s benchmark CSI300 Index dropped 0.9% weighed down by lofty valuations and Sino-U.S. tensions with the U.S. Senate set to approve a sweeping package of legislation on Chinese tech competition later. Australia’s was the only major index remaining in positive territory, closing up 0.15%.
Among the main commodities, oil prices lost ground as lingering concerns about the fragile state of the global recovery were heightened by data showing China’s oil imports fell in May.
widened losses in London to sit at $70.87 a barrel, off 0.9%. U.S. oil was down by 53 cents, or 0.7%, at $68.76 a barrel.