Stocks dip, oil rebounds: 'The mood is fairly fragile'

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equities dipped and the dollar hovered near four-month highs on Wednesday as concerns about extended economic lockdowns in Europe and the potential for higher taxes in the United States weighed on investor sentiment.

FILE PHOTO: People are seen on Wall St. outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

European shares dipped to near two-week lows, while oil prices bounced back from steep losses on Tuesday after a ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, though traffic was expected to resume soon.

“The mood is fairly fragile as all the optimism that characterised the push higher over the past two or three weeks in shares is starting to bleed away on talk of a European third wave and extensions of pandemic lockdowns in Germany and France,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.21% following steep declines in Asia and modest losses in Europe.

In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 271.55 points, or 0.84%, to 32,694.7, the S&P 500 gained 19.91 points, or 0.51%, to 3,930.43 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 45.36 points, or 0.34%, to 13,182.33.

The Ifo Institute said Germany’s extended lockdown is delaying a recovery. It cut its 2021 growth forecast for Europe’s biggest economy to 3.7% from 4.2% previously.

The IHS Markit euro zone flash composite purchasing management index rose to 52.5 in March from 48.8 in February in a surprise return to growth this month, as factories ramped up production at the fastest pace in over 23 years.

But the April numbers could be hit by the gathering pace of COVID-19 infections across Europe.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 1/32 in price to yield 1.6419%, from 1.638% late on Tuesday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the American economy remains in crisis from the pandemic as she defended developing plans for future tax increases to pay for new public investments.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told U.S. lawmakers that a coming round of post-pandemic price increases will not fuel a destructive breakout of persistent inflation.

The dollar index rose 0.073%, with the euro down 0.16% to $1.183.

“We are definitely in that mode of a potential further reduction in risk, which would be supportive for the dollar,” said Derek Halpenny, head of research for global markets at MUFG.

“If you were to pick a top concern, then it would be the COVID situation, with new cases in emerging markets back to record highs and what’s happening in Europe. It does not tally with global optimism for synchronised global growth,” Halpenny added.

Bitcoin rose 3% as Tesla Incchief Elon Musk said the company’s electric vehicles can now bebought using bitcoin.

U.S. crude rose 4.71% to $60.48 per barrel and Brent was at $63.62, up 4.66% on the day.

Spot gold added 0.2% to $1,730.20 an ounce.

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