Global stocks mostly dip as virus restrictions increase; sterling weakens

By Caroline Valetkevitch NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks on global indexes mostly eased on Monday as worries increased over the economy because of increased restrictions due to COVID-19, while sterling slumped as Britain and the European Union made a last-ditch attempt to strike a trade deal.

Reuters December 08, 2020 00:05:51 IST
Global stocks mostly dip as virus restrictions increase; sterling weakens

Global stocks mostly dip as virus restrictions increase sterling weakens

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks on global indexes mostly eased on Monday as worries increased over the economy because of increased restrictions due to COVID-19 , while sterling slumped as Britain and the European Union made a last-ditch attempt to strike a trade deal.

After surging to a fresh all-time high earlier on Monday, the MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was last down 0.1%. The U.S. benchmark S&P 500 was also down slightly in early New York trading, retreating from its recent record, while the Nasdaq gained.

Authorities in California, the most populous state in the United States, on Monday compelled much of the state to close shop and stay at home the day after it reported a record 30,000-plus new coronavirus cases.

"I think what you are seeing today is a focus on the short term with the shutdown, which is why technology is leading the way," said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management in Ohio.

Investor eyes also continue to be on negotiations between U.S. Republicans and Democrats for approval of further coronavirus relief.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 139.6 points, or 0.46%, to 30,078.66; the S&P 500 lost 3.96 points, or 0.11%, to 3,695.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 64.58 points, or 0.52%, to 12,528.81.

Expectations of a U.S. stimulus aid package gathered pace after weak payrolls data on Friday and following a bipartisan proposal on a $908 million package last week that leaders on both sides appeared open to agreeing to.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.33%.

British and European Union negotiators were trying to bridge stubborn differences standing in the way of a post-Brexit trade deal, but they had at best 48 hours to avoid a disorderly parting of ways at the end of this month.

Sterling fell in a sentiment reversal from Friday when the British currency rose to 19-month high against the dollar. Sterling was last trading at $1.3337, down 0.74% on the day.

The dollar index fell 0.062%, with the euro up 0.11% to $1.2133.

Investors also await an EU summit starting Thursday to break an impasse over a 1.8 trillion-euro coronavirus aid package, as well as the last European Central Bank policy meeting of the year on the same day.

In the bond market, yields on most U.S. Treasuries fell as rising coronavirus caseloads drove investors to buy the safe-haven securities.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 11/32 in price to yield 0.9344%, down from 0.969% late on Friday.

U.S. crude and Brent futures eased, while spot gold prices gained.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York, additional reporting Shriya Ramakrishnan and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru; Gertude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Ross Kerber; Danilo Masoni in Milan and Joice Alves in London; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Bernadette Baum and Jonathan Oatis)

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