Stock markets stumble into weekend

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Globe with digital tablet, laptop and smartphone showing international markets.
Globe with digital tablet, laptop and smartphone showing international markets.
Andrew Brookes
  • Stock markets largely stumbled Friday with traders taking their foot off the pedal before a much-anticipated earnings season.
  • In Europe, stock market indices in London and Frankfurt were negative or essentially flat in afternoon trading.
  • The main stocks indices in Hong Kong and Shanghai closed down by around one percent as traders kept tabs on China-US relations.


Stock markets largely stumbled Friday with traders taking their foot off the pedal before a much-anticipated earnings season that could give a fresh push to the recent global equities rally.

While some countries are having trouble with vaccine programmes and a rise in infections, there is a general feeling that governments will get a better hold on the crisis and allow economies to reopen, though possibly later than previously hoped.

In Europe, stock market indices in London and Frankfurt were negative or essentially flat in afternoon trading, while in Paris the CAC 40 showed a slight gain.

As trading got underway in New York, the Dow Jones index gained ground as well.

In Germany, industrial production dropped for the second month in a row in February after eight months of gains, as the economic impact of the pandemic began to bite, official data showed Friday.

Analysts said the data raised fresh doubts about the health of Europe's top economy after it bounced back from a coronavirus-triggered downturn early last year.

Separate data showed Chinese producer prices rose at their fastest pace in more than two years owing to a jump in the cost of commodities.

That has led to concerns the increases will filter through to the world economy, putting pressure on central banks as they try to keep borrowing costs down.

Axi strategist Stephen Innes said the figures "might add a ripple or two of angst to the inflation pacifist calm that has fallen on the market".

The main stocks indices in Hong Kong and Shanghai closed down by around one percent as traders kept tabs on China-US relations after Washington restricted trade with top Chinese supercomputing centres on security grounds.

In the US, Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell has again repeated his mantra that the bank would stand fast in its pledge to keep borrowing costs at record lows for as long as needed to support recovery in the world's top economy.

While last week's blockbuster US jobs report was welcome, he said the "recovery remains uneven and incomplete" and he wanted to see more of those before he was happy progress was being made.

There remains a concern that strong recovery expectations, President Joe Biden's vast spending sprees, and the rollout of vaccines will fan inflation to a point that the Fed will be forced to hike rates earlier than it intends.

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