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 indexes fluctuated between small losses and gains in volume that was about 40% below average for the time of day, with investors shrugging off better-than-forecast jobless data. European stocks dipped on the last day of 2020. Markets in Japan, Germany and South Korea were shut for New Year’s Eve.
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.
The S&P 500 is poised to end a volatile year up more than 15%, leaving equities at rich valuations amid expectations that widespread vaccine distribution in 2021, central bank support and government aid will reignite economic growth and boost corporate profits. The gains were global, with the MSCI World Index of stocks also set to end the year near a record high, having risen 14% in 2020.
“Investors are breathing a sigh of relief that some stimulus is getting out there,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. This “has been an unprecedented year, and I think that some of the risks that we entered into 2020 with, we’re leaving without those risks.”
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 before edging lower. The digital asset has advanced almost 50% in December and is on track for the biggest monthly jump since May 2019.
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.
These are the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 Index was little changed as of 10:08 a.m. in New York.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.3%.
- The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.2%.
- The MSCI Emerging Market Index rose 0.3%.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index dipped 0.1%.
- The euro decreased 0.2% to $1.2268.
- The British pound rose 0.3% to $1.3663.
- The Japanese yen strengthened 0.1% to 103.07 per dollar.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 0.92%.
- Germany’s 10-year yield was little changed at -0.575%.
- Britain’s 10-year yield decreased two basis points to 0.19%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude declined 0.9% to $47.96 a barrel.
- Gold rose 0.1% $1,896.42 an ounce.
— With assistance by Andreea Papuc