Global markets creep ahead on recovery optimism

·3-min read
Strong US data has Asian investors in bullish mood at the end of a positive week

Global markets crept higher Friday even as data showed a spike in inflation, hitting consumer sentiment ahead of an expected big-spending budget announcement from President Joe Biden.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.3 percent in early trade, outpaced by the tech-heavy Nasdaq and lagged by the wider S&P 500, following modest rises in Asia and Europe.

"Economic recoveries continue to overshadow lingering uncertainty regarding the global monetary policy implications of rising inflation pressures," Charles Schwab analysts wrote.

Data released earlier Friday had shown US consumer prices rose by 3.6 percent year-on-year in April.

Upward inflation pressure has in recent weeks sparked fears among some market players that central banks could ease their feet off the stimulus pedal and slow their economies.

But the fiscal prong of government stimulus is in full swing in the US, with Biden expected to unveil a $6-trillion spending plan on Friday -- albeit largely made up of already-announced measures.

The euro steadied versus the dollar while oil prices climbed on signs of strengthening US crude demand.

"Stocks continue to rise since the US economic growth exceptionalism story does not appear to be going away anytime soon and as inflation still looks like it will be transitory," said Oanda senior analyst Edward Moya, on data which suggest that "the economy will run hot this summer on reopening momentum."

- Eurozone confidence -

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets shook off a weak first-quarter growth reading from France to rise across the board, with both Frankfurt and Paris adding around 0.8 percent at the close, and while London was flat it is up nine percent over the year to date.

The French economy's unexpected 0.1-percent contraction was outshone by the European Commission's key eurozone sentiment indicator, which soared to 114.5 in May.

That was "markedly" above its pre-pandemic level, according to the data release, and compared with 110.5 in April.

"The headline surveys in the eurozone continue to signal barnstorming growth midway through Q2 as the economy gradually reopens, and vaccination continues apace," said Pantheon Macroeconomics analyst Claus Vistesen.

Commentators also remained optimistic on the longer-term outlook for France.

"We still expect the gradual reopening of the (French) economy to lead to a strong rebound in activity," IHS Markit analyst Diego Iscaro told AFP.

"Given the timing of the reopening, it is likely that the rebound will be reflected in the third quarter of the year and will be driven by a surge in private consumption."

- $6.0-trillion stimulus -

Biden's $6-trillion budget proposal includes his vast infrastructure deal and spending on families.

While the huge outlays are likely to add to inflationary pressures, investors were happier to look past that, opting instead to focus on the economic boost.

Federal Reserve officials and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argue that any price spikes will be transitory.

On Thursday, the Labor Department said 406,000 new seasonally adjusted claims for jobless benefits were made last week, 38,000 down on the week before, much better than predicted and a pandemic low.

- Key figures around 1600 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 34,583.52 points

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,022.61 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 6,484.11 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 15,519.98 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 4,072.00

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.1 percent at 29,149.41 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: FLAT at 29,124.41 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,600.78 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2194 from $1.2195 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4191 from $1.4207

Euro/pound: UP at 85.93 pence from 85.84 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.86 from 109.81 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.5 percent at $69.78 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $67.12 per barrel

dan-rfj/cdw/spm

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