Global equities and oil jump, bonds dip as Biden takes office
By David Randall NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity benchmarks rose to new record highs and oil prices jumped while U.S. Treasury bonds dipped Wednesday as investors weighed the likelihood of further U.S.
By David Randall
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity benchmarks rose to new record highs and oil prices jumped while U.S. Treasury bonds dipped Wednesday as investors weighed the likelihood of further U.S. stimulus under the new Biden administration against worsening coronavirus outbreaks in China and the United States.
President Joe Biden, who was sworn into office on Wednesday, last week laid out a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal to boost the economy and speed up the distribution of vaccines.
U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen urged lawmakers to "act big" to save the economy and worry about debt later at a confirmation hearing Tuesday.
Pandemic relief would take priority over tax increases, she said, while calling for corporations and the wealthy - both winners from Republican tax cuts in 2017 - to "pay their fair share".
Investors in European equities welcomed the comments, with the Euro STOXX 600 climbing 0.7.% Luxury stocks gave the biggest boost, with Richemont quarterly sales climbing 5%, led by strong growth at its jewellery brands in Asia and the Middle East.
The buoyant mood mirrored that in Asia, where MSCI's Asia-Pacific index outside Japan rose 1% to its highest ever. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.1% to near its 2019 peak. Australian shares hit a record high.
"They realized that there is some limits to what monetary policy can do to effect change in the real economy," said Shaniel Ramjee, senior investment manager at Pictet Asset Management. "The Fed will continue buying bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury in order to fund the fiscal programs."
MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1%, hitting a new record. The index is up 3.3% since the start of January.
In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 206.91 points, or 0.67%, to 31,137.43, the S&P 500 gained 45.24 points, or 1.19%, to 3,844.15 and the Nasdaq Composite added 228.37 points, or 1.73%, to 13,425.55.
The jump in risk assets came as the United States officially passed 400,000 deaths from the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The U.S. death toll last week topped 23,000, setting a new record for the third week in a row.
China, meanwhile, said that it is facing its worst outbreak of the virus since March 2020.
The dollar index rose 0.04%, with the euro down 0.14% to $1.2111.
Positioning data showed investors are overwhelmingly short on the dollar, betting budget and current account deficits will weigh on the greenback.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 2/32 in price to yield 1.0972%, from 1.092% late on Tuesday.
Spot gold added 1.2% to $1,861.86 an ounce.
Italy's benchmark borrowing costs dropped to their lowest in over a week on Wednesday after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte narrowly managed to stay in office - albeit now heading a minority government.
Italian 10-year bond yields dropped to their lowest since Jan. 11 - before Conte lost his majority - at 0.533%, down 2 basis points on the day.
Oil prices rose on hopes that Biden's proposed stimulus will lift economic output.
U.S. crude rose 0.7% to $53.35 per barrel and Brent was at $56.35, up 0.81% on the day.
(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Kirsten Donovan)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
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