Global stock markets bounced higher on Monday following last week's bloodletting as bargain-buyers moved in, while silver prices soared to an eight-year peak after it became a new target of social media-driven retail buying, dealers said.
"The fear that dominated the markets last week has faded," said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.
Equity markets faced their biggest reverse in several months last week as surging infections and a stuttering vaccination rollout offset long-term hopes for the economic recovery.
"Uneasiness surrounding the rise in COVID-19 new cases and variants persists, but is being countered by recent further progress on the vaccine (and) treatment fronts," investment bank Charles Schwab said in an analysis.
Markets had also been worried that an online retail investors' attack on Wall Street short traders was forcing some to sell equities or close out positions to cover their backs -- and losses.
But the onslaught appeared to have petered out on Wall Street, with the campaign's main target GameStop closing 30.8 percent lower, and all three major US indices finishing solidly higher as investors regained their confidence.
- 'Herding into silver' -
Retail investors however appeared to have shifted to silver as their target, and the price of the metal zoomed to an eight-year peak at $30.10 per ounce in early Monday morning deals, before paring gains.
The precious metal has now soared by more than 16 percent since Thursday.
"Silver prices jumped... as investor interest turned on the metal due to expectations Reddit traders will attempt to squeeze prices higher," said Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson.
"Retail traders are herding into silver in the same way they have driven the likes of GameStop over the last week."
Patrick J. O'Hare at Briefing.com called the jump in silver prices "the latest sign of the times".
"We're talking silver futures, people -- or perhaps they would be referred to better today as silly futures," he added.
The spotlight was also still on Washington as lawmakers moved to approve new stimulus for the struggling US economy, though how much they'll ultimately spend is uncertain.
There are expectations that President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion plan will be whittled down as Republicans look to lower the cost, and a group of 10 senators from that party have proposed an alternative package.
But their approximately $600 billion proposal contains elements that Democrats controlling Congress will not accept, and on Monday the leaders of the House and Senate began a legislative process by which they could ram through the president's plan.
- Containment hits growth -
Despite last week's losses, the new week started on a positive note in Asia, with Hong Kong and Seoul up more than two percent, while Tokyo jumped more than one percent and Shanghai won 0.6 percent.
The positive tone on Asian markets carried over to European trading where the main indices all finished firmly higher.
However, data out of China over the weekend showed that growth in economic activity appeared to have slowed in January as officials imposed fresh containment measures to counter new virus clusters in parts of the country.
- Key figures around 2130 GMT -
New York - Dow: UP 0.8 percent at 30,211.91 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 1.6 percent at 3,773.86 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: UP 2.5 percent at 13,403.39 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.4 percent at 3,530.85 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 6,466.42 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 1.4 percent at 13,622.02 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 5,461.68 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.6 percent at 28,091.05 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.2 percent at 28,892.86 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,505.28 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2059 from $1.2136 at 2200 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 104.94 yen from 104.68 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3664 from $1.3708
Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.23 pence from 88.53 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.7 percent at $53.61 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.5 percent at $56.42 per barrel