Stocks Drift Higher Before Fed Meeting, Earnings

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Stock markets rose modestly Monday at the start of a busy week featuring Federal Reserve and OPEC meetings and major US corporate earnings.

After a mixed showing in Asia, European stocks turned higher in afternoon trading.

Wall Street’s main stock indices opened higher, with the Dow adding 0.2 percent.

The dollar was mixed the Fed’s rate decision Wednesday.

Oil prices sank on stubborn fears over coronavirus-hit demand, before an output gathering the same day of OPEC crude producers and allies.

“There is not a lot of direction… We are in a holding pattern,” noted analyst Neil Wilson at trading site Markets.com.

Investors were alarmed by spiking Covid-19 infections in India, but sentiment remains soothed by US and UK vaccination drives — and the vast amount of stimulus sloshing around the world economy.

“Vaccinations in the US and UK are positive, a startling rise in infections in India is a negative, but markets are largely looking through the bad with ample monetary and fiscal support,” added Wilson.

The Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting ending Wednesday comes before the US posts its latest economic growth data later this week.

Investors are meanwhile awaiting this week’s Wall Street earnings from giants including Tesla, Facebook and Apple.

“The US economy is in a much better position compared to a few months ago, thanks to government stimulus and the fast pace of Covid vaccinations,” noted ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

“So far, the strength of US data has not prevented the Fed from keeping the quantitative easing taps wide open.

“But if the improvement in data persists then it will only be a matter of time before the Fed tapers its emergency stimulus measures.”

Wall Street advanced Friday on strong readings for US and European manufacturing and services activity, eclipsing worries over President Joe Biden’s plan to almost double capital gains tax.

However, Biden’s $2.25-trillion infrastructure plan could take longer to get through Congress than hoped after a member of his own Democratic Party opposed the size of it and backed a slimmed-down version put forward by Republicans.

TD Ameritrade analyst JJ Kinahan said “this week is looking pretty busy on a trio of fronts–earnings, economic data and monetary policy.”

A number of big name firms like Tesla, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet, Boeing, Caterpillar, McDonald’s, Mastercard, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.

But overall, about one-third of the S&P 500 is reporting earnings this week.

In addition to the Fed’s latest policy meeting, this week investors are due to get an initial estimate of first quarter GDP, US President Joe Biden is due to make his first address to Congress and may unveil another big spending plan.

Traders will be keeping a close eye on the Federal Reserve latest meeting this week for an idea about the US recovery and its plans for monetary policy Photo: AFP / Daniel SLIM

Asia began Monday on a strong note but struggled in some markets, with Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Manila and Bangkok all up but Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney and Jakarta falling.

Still, trading floors remain on edge over spiking virus infections around the world, with India seeing five straight days of more than 300,000 new cases in a surge that has overwhelmed hospitals and left severe oxygen and medicine shortages.

Mumbai stocks however rose more than one percent on Monday.

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 6,964.15 points

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP less than 0.1 percent at 15,292.25

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 6,278.77

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 4,019.62

New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 34,104.76

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 29,126.23 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,952.83 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,441.17 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2075 from $1.2097

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3883 from $1.3876

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.98 pence from 87.18 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.04 yen from 107.88 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.5 percent at $65.12 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.4 percent at $61.26 per barrel

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