Inflation fears top recovery hopes as stocks slide

·3-min read
The girl remains fearless even if investors are now concerned about inflation

Stocks mostly fell Thursday as profit-taking and growing inflation worries overshadowed optimism about an expected strong economic recovery, the easing coronavirus crisis and US stimulus hopes.

Oil however barrelled upwards to 13-month highs as the severe cold snap in the United States hammered production, trumping news that Saudi Arabia is planning to hike output in light of rising prices.

Wall Street opened lower, with the Dow shedding 0.7 percent on data that showed US initial unemployment benefits applications are on the rise.

London stocks tumbled 1.4 percent as the pound approached $1.40.

Meanwhile Paris dropped 0.7 percent and Frankfurt drifted 0.2percent lower.

Asian markets struggled. Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Wellington, Manila, Mumbai and Bangkok all fell, with Hong Kong more than one percent off after a seven-day run-up.

Shanghai rose as it reopened after a week-long holiday, while Taipei and Jakarta also rose and Sydney was essentially unchanged.

Bitcoin meanwhile declined to $51,973, having soared on feverish investor demand late Wednesday to a record $52,631.92.

- Quieter tone -

"The quiet atmosphere in European markets has continued," noted analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading firm IG.

"The generally quieter tone to the week, both on the corporate and earnings front, has generally left investors without much in the way of a catalyst."

Global equities have enjoyed bumper gains on mounting confidence that the world economy will rebound from last year's collapse as Covid-19 vaccination programmes allow people to slowly get back to a semblance of normality.

Underpinning that has been vast amounts of government spending as well as ultra-loose central bank monetary policies and pledges of continued support until the recovery is well underway.

- Rising inflation expectations -

At the same time, that has stoked fears over a surge in inflation and produced a spike in US Treasury yields to around one-year highs.

"Stocks desperately need a real pick me up as the index level's lack of enthusiasm was palatable today," Axi analyst Stephen Innes said.

"I think it is due to no other reason than its tough to hold a view until the next destination for yields becomes clearer."

Meanwhile, analyst Connor Campbell at Spreadex said: "Given their recent levels, it’s not really a surprise that certain markets were in danger of moving sharply lower at the slightest provocation."

For London's FTSE 100 that has been the strength of the pound, which approached $1.40, a level unseen in nearly three years.

"With sterling’s surge creating a nightmare for its numerous multinationals, the FTSE sank," Campbell said.

Many multinationals listed on the FTSE make most of their earnings in dollars, so a strong pound weakens sales and profits when they are converted.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.8 percent at 31,365.08 points

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,681.32

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 1.4 percent at 6,617.15 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 13,886.93 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 percent at 5,728.33 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 30,236.09 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.6 percent at 30,595.27 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,675.36 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2077 from $1.2030 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3956 from $1.3857

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.54 pence from 86.87 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.71 yen from 105.87 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $64.58 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $61.36