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Global stocks mostly shrug off J&J vaccine woes

  • Optimism nevertheless appeared intact among traders as bitcoin zoomed to a record high above $63,000 ahead of Wednesday's trading launch of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange.
14 Apr 2021

NEW YORK: Stocks largely shrugged off surprise problems with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine rollout, while bitcoin powered to a record on Tuesday on the eve of a key IPO.

London finished the day close to flat despite news of Britain's rebounding economic growth and recovering EU exports in February, but Frankfurt and Paris both pushed upwards in the face of bumps in the road.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 edged to a fresh record and the Nasdaq rallied, while the Dow fell modestly.

Shares of US airlines and other sectors tied to the economic recovery initially plunged, but later clawed back some of their losses.

Delta Air Lines ended down 1.2 percent while Expedia lost 0.5 percent.

The J&J problem "isn't great news, obviously, but it's nothing people need to go crazy over," said JJ Kinahan of TD Ameritrade. "We had good momentum with vaccinations heading into summer, and this might slow the momentum, but the other two vaccines are still working well."

US health authorities recommended pausing the J&J Covid-19 shot over blood clot fears.

The company quickly announced it would delay its European rollout, in a setback for global immunization campaigns.

US authorities said the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution" over a disorder that appears similar to that observed in rare cases of blood clots in people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe.

But the S&P 500's closing record showed investors took the news in stride.

"There were some concerns the JNJ mishap would contribute to vaccine hesitancy and possibly slow down vaccination/reopening efforts, but the market didn't overreact to the news," said after the US market closed.

Fears of Fed hitting brakes

The day started with the Labor Department reporting US consumer price inflation rose to 2.6 percent in the 12 months to March.

Analyst Fawad Razaqzada of Think Markets said "the key question is whether growth optimism will be replaced by inflationary concerns and taper tantrums," referring to market upset if the Federal Reserve signals an end to easy-money policy.

Although central bankers have repeatedly pledged not to change tack until inflation has been elevated for some time and unemployment has fallen, "if we do now see more signs of the US economy heating up, then there could be a noticeable change in tone from the Fed," Razaqzada said.

Optimism nevertheless appeared intact among traders as bitcoin zoomed to a record high above $63,000 ahead of Wednesday's trading launch of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange.

"A good debut for Coinbase in Nasdaq will mark the first official juncture between the traditional financial avenue and the alternative crypto path," said Swissquote analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

"As such, a successful addition to Nasdaq should act as endorsement of cryptocurrencies by traditional investors."