European stock markets climb higher despite rising COVID fears
European stock markets pushed higher on Wednesday despite rising COVID-19 cases in the bloc.
French health minister Olivier Veran said in parliament that “we are sadly well and truly in a fifth wave of the epidemic” as France announced 30,454 new cases.
Austria has also recently moved into a nationwide lockdown, while the Netherlands announced that social distancing would be reintroduced on a mandatory basis, with people required to stay 1.5m apart. Poland saw the biggest daily increase in hospitalisations since April.
Watch: Austria becomes first country in Western Europe to re-enter a full COVID lockdown
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Across the pond, S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were down 0.1%, Dow futures (YM=F) likewise ahead 0.1%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were 0.1% higher as trade began in Europe.
It came as inflation worries and expectations of tighter central bank monetary policy continue to hold traders’ focus, and as crude extended gains despite US moves to boost output.
On Tuesday, weaker technology stocks saw the Nasdaq slide back, even as the Dow closed higher, and the S&P500 finished the day flat.
Traders will also be looking to the second estimate for third-quarter GDP in the US later on Wednesday, and the release of the latest Federal Reserve minutes.
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“While the minutes aren’t likely to deliver too much in the way of surprises they could act as a decent insight into the deliberations of the FOMC into the decision-making process when it came to deciding the amount of the initial taper,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said.
“While the initial reduction of asset purchases was widely expected, an initial monthly reduction of $10bn in Treasuries, and $5bn in mortgage-backed securities, it will be interesting to find out how many FOMC members wanted to go faster.”
Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims are expected to come down to 260,000 from 268,000.
Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday following a run of recent weakness, with the Nikkei (^N225) slumping 1.6% in Japan while the Hang Seng (^HSI) rose 0.1% in Hong Kong, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was also 0.1% higher.