Markets are ending a tumultuous year on a quiet note, with global stock indexes holding near record highs and the dollar at the lowest in two years.
U.S. equity futures and European stocks were little changed on the last day of 2020. Markets in Japan, Germany and South Korea were shut for New Year’s Eve. Trading in Euro Stoxx 50 shares was about 80% below the 30-day average.
In Asia, China’s benchmark CSI 300 Index closed at a five-year high as officials gave the green light to its first coronavirus vaccine for general public use and data showed a steady economic recovery. The offshore yuan strengthened to the highest since June 2018.
“Better data and fading tail-risks have boosted the outlook over the past few weeks,” Bruce Kasman, chief economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. said in a note. “The recovery will still face headwinds in the coming quarters, but 2021 is shaping up to be better.”
Against a backdrop of subdued trading this week, the frenzy in cryptocurrencies shows no signs of slowing down. Bitcoin vaulted above $29,000 on Thursday. The digital asset has advanced almost 50% in December and is on track for the biggest monthly gain since May 2019.
Investors have pushed risk assets including stocks to sky-high valuations this year on expectations that widespread vaccine distribution in 2021 will reignite economic growth and boost corporate profits, and amid unprecedented stimulus. The MSCI World Index of global stocks is set to end the year near a record high, having risen 14% in 2020.
On the coronavirus front, global deaths from Covid-19 passed 1.8 million. Cities that had gone weeks without new infections, including Beijing and Melbourne, are now reporting clusters, and cases of the new, highly transmissible virus strain were identified in Singapore and California.
Here are some key events coming up:
- U.S. initial jobless claims figures are published Thursday.
- Most global stock markets are closed Friday for New Year’s Day.
These are the main moves in markets:
- Futures on the S&P 500 Index gained 0.1% as of 11:54 a.m. London time.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed.
- The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.2%.
- The MSCI Emerging Market Index climbed 0.3%.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dipped 0.1% to 1,117.92.
- The euro decreased 0.2% to $1.227.
- The British pound rose 0.2% to $1.3654.
- The Japanese yen strengthened 0.1% to 103.07 per dollar.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose one basis point to 0.93%.
- The yield on two-year Treasuries was unchanged at 0.12%.
- Germany’s 10-year yield gained less than one basis point to -0.57%.
- Britain’s 10-year yield decreased two basis points to 0.195%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude declined 0.5% to $47.97 a barrel.
- Gold was little changed at $1,894.96 an ounce.