Stocks lose shine ahead of U.S. inflation, oil buoyant

LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks dipped on Friday, retreating from two-week highs set in the previous session amid renewed concerns about COVID-19 and caution ahead of key U.S. inflation data, although oil remained on track for its biggest weekly gain since late August.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, are reflected on an electronic board displaying Japan’s stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, October 5, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Riskier markets have performed well this week, helped by indications the Omicron strain of the new coronavirus might not be as economically disruptive as first feared.

But that bounce was running out of energy on Friday ahead of November’s U.S. consumer price index data, due later.

A Reuters poll of economists expects CPI to have risen 6.8% year-on-year, overtaking October’s 6.2% increase, which was the fastest gain in 31 years.

“It’s likely the base number won’t look great, it’s quite a rise expected compared to previous months,” said Matthias Scheiber, global head of portfolio management at Allspring Global Investments.

However, Scheiber said other indicators such as supply chain statistics suggested inflation could stabilise in the medium term.

There was also some gloom about the Omicron variant in Europe after England introduced more restrictions this week.

The MSCI world equities index fell 0.2% though it was on course for a 2.5% gain on the week.

European stocks were down 0.35% but eyeing a weekly rise of 2.7%. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.12% after data showed Britain’s economy grew by a weaker-than-expected 0.1% in October.

S&P 500 futures rose 0.28%, however, clawing back a little ground after the index fell 0.72% on Thursday.

Oil prices were on course to rise more than 6% this week on easing concerns over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on global growth and fuel demand.

U.S. crude rose 0.27% to $71.15 a barrel. Brent crude rose 0.11% to $74.49. [O/R]

The dollar index was flat, heading towards its seventh consecutive weekly rise, its longest rising streak since mid-2014. The euro was also steady at $1.129.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields picked up to 1.5145% and the two-year yield rose to 0.7310%, its highest since March 2020.

Any upside inflation surprise will likely be interpreted as a case for a faster Fed taper and bring forward expectations for interest rate rises.

Ten-year German government bond yields ticked up to -0.34%.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.8%, snapping three days of gains and Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.0%.

Shares in China Evergrande Group lost 1.7% after Fitch downgraded it to restricted default status.

Contagion was limited, however, with Hong Kong stocks off 1.07%.

“This issue has been going on for 2-1/2 months now, and markets don’t seem to be as fussed because a default on Evergrande’s offshore debt has seemed highly likely,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital.

Gold dipped 0.2% to $1,771 an ounce [GOL/].

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