Shares dip as optimism about economic recovery dented

Investors cautious ahead of Fed’s policy decision, earnings updates

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

Shares dipped from record highs on Tuesday as optimism about the economic recovery was dented by caution ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision and a raft of earning updates.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, fell 0.1 per cent by 0810 GMT, following a muted session in Asia and slight early losses in Europe. The index is up 9 per cent year-to-date, underpinned by expectations that rising vaccination rates will allow more economies to recover and give a big boost to company profits.

Earnings in Europe are expected to have risen 61 per cent in the first quarter, while US profits are seen up more than 31 per cent, according to the latest Refinitiv IBES estimates. Many investors, however, stayed on the sidelines ahead of the Fed’s policy meeting ending on Wednesday, where the US central bank is expected to confirm that it will maintain its easy monetary policy to bolster the economy.

Markets were also awaiting for results from US tech heavyweights Microsoft and Alphabet later on Tuesday.

“There are yet to be any real punctures in the global risk balloon at the moment,” said Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in a note. “We’ll have to wait and see if these upcoming events might throw this off course.”

Concerns

In extended trade, Tesla shares dipped about 0.4 per cent even after the electric car maker beat Wall Street expectations for first-quarter revenue. S&P 500 futures rose almost 0.1 per cent, while earlier the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.06 per cent. One area of concern was India, which is struggling with a surge of coronavirus infections that has overwhelmed its healthcare system.

Copper prices hit a 10-year high over supply worries in top producer Chile and as investors hope for an improvement in global demand amid a stable economic recovery. Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange hit $9,965 a tonne, its highest since March 2011, before retreating.

Oil rebounded after top oil producers stood by their demand forecasts, but there are still downside risks due to surging Covid-19 cases in India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer. Brent crude was 0.5 per cent, at $65.94 a barrel and U.S. oil gained 0.6 per cent at $62.24.

Bond traders were are also closely watching an auction of $62-billion of seven-year US Treasuries later on Tuesday. The Treasury saw very weak demand at a seven-year debt auction in February, which sparked a brutal market selloff across the globe. The notes also saw tepid, although improved, demand in March.

Ahead of the auction results, seven-year US yields edged up to 1.265 per cent, while benchmark 10-year yields rose slightly to 1.573 per cent.

The dollar hovered near multi-week lows versus major peers but moves were narrow as traders avoided taking out big positions before the bond auction and the Fed meeting. It was last up 0.08 per cent on the day at 90.961.

The yen pulled back from a seven-week high to fall 0.2 per cent against the dollar after the Bank of Japan lowered its consumer price forecasts only a week after Tokyo and Osaka entered their third state of emergency over a spike in coronavirus infections.

Bitcoin rose 1.2 per cent to $54,715. The world’s most popular cryptocurrency soared nearly 10 per cent on Monday, after five straight days of losses, on reports that JPMorgan Chase is planning to offer a managed Bitcoin fund. Bitcoin had slumped almost a fifth from its all-time high hit earlier this month.