Global equities mostly up due to coronavirus blockage and rising inflation

European markets opened higher on Monday after a mixed trading day in Asia.

The resurgence of coronavirus outbreaks has prompted some countries to take stricter precautions to curb another pandemic wave.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed in Austria early on Monday in a desperate effort to contain the rise in infections. The country's chancellor, Alexander Schallenberg, announced last week that Austria was introducing a vaccine mandate from 1 February.

Tens of thousands of people marched through Brussels on Sunday to protest against tighter COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Belgian government.

The World Health Organisation said last week that Europe is now a pandemic hotspot, the only region where deaths from COVID-19 are rising.

Nevertheless, the markets seem to have started the week strongly. Germany's DAX was up 0.1% to 29,774.11 and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.3% to 7,130.80. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4% to 7,251.02.

US futures also pointed to a good start, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 contracts up 0.3%.

On Wall Street on Friday the Nasdaq composite index added 0.4% and the S&P 500 fell 0.1%. The Dow Industrial Average fell 0.8%. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.9% to 2,343.16.

Investors are waiting to see if President Joe Biden decides to keep Jerome Powell at the helm of the Fed.

Biden is expected to announce within days who he will pick for the most influential economic position in the country. Many Fed observers expect Powell to be offered a second term, although Lael Brainard, a member of the Fed's Board of Governors, has emerged as the leading alternative.

The decision could have a huge impact given the key role the Fed plays in setting the future course for the world's biggest economy.

In Asia on Monday, the Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6 per cent to 3,582.08, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 0.4 per cent to 24,951.34 points.

South Korea's Kospi rose 1.4% to 3,013.25 as shares in the country's biggest company, Samsung Electronics, jumped 5.2%.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 recovered from earlier losses, rising 0.1% to 29,774.11. In Australia, the S & P / ASX 500 fell 0.6% to 7,353.10.

India's Sensex was down 2.5%.

Reports of Chinese central bank advisers pointing to risks to inflation and slow growth leading to quasi-stagflation "signalled the conflicting pressures facing Beijing.

Ting Lu of Nomura said real estate credit controls, new waves of COVID-19 outbreaks and stringent measures to combat them, and rising prices are exacerbating China's political problems.

A slew of meeting memoranda and policy reports show Beijing is increasingly concerned about the economic slowdown and has begun taking steps to change its policy stance to prevent a further slowdown," Ting said.

As generally believes, stocks gained momentum as companies reported better-than-expected earnings in the latest quarter.

However, most face higher raw material costs and supply chain issues that could reduce future earnings. Consumers have so far absorbed the higher prices, but analysts fear they may start saving if higher prices persist for too long.

Stock markets continue to trade at or near record highs in the US and who can blame them? US data remains strong, although the inflation noise is getting louder by the day," said Oanda's Jeffrey Halley in a commentary.

The situation is forcing the Federal Reserve to act faster to rein in its ultra-low rate policy to combat rising prices. On Friday, analysts at Bank of America predicted that the Fed is likely to start raising the benchmark interest rate in the second quarter of 2022, two quarters earlier than they had previously predicted.

In other trading, US benchmark crude added 30 cents to $76.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for international prices, added 25 cents to $79.14 a barrel.

The US dollar rose to 114.08 Japanese yen from 113.96 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.1284 from $1.1289.


See also: BlackRock China raises $1bn in first mutual fund

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