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Markets

Lockdowns keep European equities confined

  • Wall Street's main stock indices pushed higher at the start of trading, with the Dow adding 0.4 percent after several minutes of trading.
Published January 5, 2021

LONDON: Fresh lockdowns and slow vaccination campaigns kept European stocks on the back foot Tuesday, while Wall Street rose as key runoff elections were being held.

London stocks held flat in afternoon deals after the UK government implemented new national restrictions set to last weeks -- but also announced an extra £4.6-billion package for virus-battered businesses.

In afternoon eurozone deals, Frankfurt and Paris were both down close to 1.0 percent as Germany was set to extend a shutdown in Europe's top economy and the French government scrambled to speed up a slow rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.

"The mood has soured somewhat as a result of the national lockdowns which are once again coming into force or being extended," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.

"This was maybe inevitable anyway as a result of the (Christmas) festivities taking place in the midst of an already severe wave of Covid-19 but the new variant has thrown another spanner in the works."

He added: "The mood may sour further if these lockdowns do not bring the virus back under control soon."

England's six-week lockdown, which began at midnight, emulates the first national coronavirus curbs in place from March to June -- but goes further than another instituted in November when schools remained open.

In recent months, governments worldwide have tightened or prolonged lockdown restrictions to combat the health crisis.

While analysts are broadly upbeat about the long-term outlook this year, the nascent Covid-19 vaccine programmes have yet to have an impact, meaning the first few months of this year will likely be bumpy.

"The upside compared to last year is that there are now multiple vaccines being rolled out so we can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- but that does not mean we cannot see significant economic damage in the interim," noted Erlam.

The task ahead was laid bare by data showing almost 280,000 Americans were infected in one day, while the country's death toll passed 300,000.

Wall Street's main stock indices pushed higher at the start of trading, with the Dow adding 0.4 percent after several minutes of trading.

Investors watched anxiously as voters in Georgia cast ballots in run-off elections for two Senate seats which will decide the balance of power in the upper house of Congress.

"Today's price action alone offers few if any hints over what any given result would mean for financial markets," said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi.

He said it was unclear whether markets would welcome a Democratic win as a harbinger of more government spending or spurn it as it would likely mean tax increases and more regulation.

Asian equities mostly rebounded Tuesday on hopes that ongoing vaccine rollouts would help beat the coronavirus crisis, dealers said.

World oil prices shot higher as the OPEC crude producers' cartel and its allies mulled whether or not to pump more barrels into the market.

Separately, bitcoin was sitting at $32,000 following swings that saw it hit a record near $35,000 before diving to $28,000 within the space of a day.

Key figures around 1430 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 6,572.86 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.0 percent at 13,592.90

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.9 percent at 5,538.18

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,529.90

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 30,343.33

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 27,158.63 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 27,649.86 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.7 percent at 3,528.68 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2273 from $1.2248

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 102.85 yen from 103.13 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3579 from $1.3571 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 90.37 pence from 90.25 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.5 percent at $48.79 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.1 percent at $52.15

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