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Tepid stock gains in Europe, US slips

By AFP - Mar 03,2021 - Last updated at Mar 03,2021

LONDON — European stock markets made tepid gains on Wednesday as investors snapped up bargain shares following sharp losses last week, but Wall Street opened lower.

London's benchmark FTSE 1 index was 0.4 per cent higher in afternoon, having been up 1 per cent before the government unveiled its latest budget.

The pound, which sat just underneath $1.40 before the budget announcement, pulled back after the government cut back its 2021 growth forecast to 4 per cent from 5.5 per cent.

Frankfurt and Paris stocks both won around 0.1 per cent in afternoon trading.

Wall Street opened lower, with the Dow shedding 0.1 per cent.

Oil prices advanced strongly on the eve of a key OPEC+ producers' meeting.

"The stock market is struggling to figure out which way is up and which way is down; hence, it has been moving mostly sideways," said market analyst Patrick J. O'Hare at Briefing.com.

Stock markets suffered a sharp sell-off last week on the back of rising US Treasury yields, an indication of rising interest rates.

While the bond market has steadied this week, traders remain cautious, with US markets slipping on Tuesday despite a drop in bond yields.

Investors remain on guard over concerns about asset bubbles — and a potential surge in inflation that could herald interest rate hikes in the long run.

 

Progress in virus fight 

 

Asian equities rose strongly on Wednesday following losses the previous day, as investors track global progress in fighting the deadly pandemic.

Sentiment was buoyed after the White House said on Tuesday that it would have enough shots to immunise every adult by the end of May, two months earlier than first thought.

Upbeat news on vaccines, the expected passage of US President Joe Biden's stimulus package, slowing infection rates and easing lockdowns are contributing to the narrative that the global economy will see a burst of activity from the second half of the year.

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