Expatica news

Stocks steady after Delta, Fed jolt

European and US stocks steadied on Friday after fears over the fast-spreading Delta variant, the Federal Reserve’s taper plans and China’s regulatory crackdown took the wind out of the sails of the global recovery rally this week.

Oil prices continued to fall on concerns the surge in the Delta variant of Covid-19 could lead to further closures and restrictions that dampen energy demand.

London stocks were a couple points higher in afternoon trading amid news UK supermarket Morrisons accepted a £7.0-billion ($9.6-billion, 8.2-billion-euro) takeover from US private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Frankfurt dipped 0.1 percent and Paris added 0.1 percent.

On Wall Street, both the Dow and S&P 500 opened flat, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.3 percent.

Stock markets have tanked this week on worries the latest wave of Covid-19 infections would crimp global growth, with major indices set the end the week lower.

Sentiment was slammed also after the Federal Reserve signalled it would begin to taper its stimulus this year.

Investors have been on edge additionally over Afghan unrest and China’s regulatory crackdown.

– ‘Sentiment fragile’ –

“Sentiment remains fragile for the moment, and with lighter trading volumes during August, more market volatility is extremely possible,” forecast Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor.

A speech by Fed boss Jerome Powell at next week’s gathering of central bankers and finance chiefs at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will be keenly watched for a taper timetable and Covid recovery plans.

“Markets may struggle for direction until the latter part of next week given a dearth of corporate and economic updates,” noted AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson.

“The Jackson Hole summit kicking off next Thursday (will give) central bankers and other economic decision makers a chance to outline their plans for the next phase of the pandemic recovery.”

Investors have for more than a year sent share prices surging thanks to colossal government and central bank support as well as optimism that vaccine rollouts would enable economies to reopen.

However, the virus mutation has forced experts to rethink their outlooks for growth as some countries reimpose containment measures and infection rates rise.

On Friday, Hong Kong’s main stocks index closed down nearly two percent after Beijing passed a sweeping privacy law to prevent state and private firms from collecting sensitive information on people.

The move comes after leaders clamped down on a range of industries — particularly tech giants — citing personal data issues as well as security and antitrust breaches.

– Key figures around 1330 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP less than 0.1 percent at 7,060.87 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 15,745.31

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 6,613.39

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 4,136.98

New York – Dow: UP less than 0.1 percent at 34,908.29

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 27,013.25 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.8 percent at 24,849.72 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.1 percent at 3,427.33 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1677 from $1.1675

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3623 from $1.3639

Euro/pound: UP at 85.70 pence from 85.60 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.80 yen from 109.74 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.0 percent at $63.04 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.2 percent at $65.65 per barrel