Oil prices surged Wednesday and most European markets closed higher on increased optimism for a post-pandemic economic rebound, though Wall Street struggled with concerns over excessive equity valuations.
And crude prices added more than four percent, responding to news of drawdowns from US reserves and higher demand forecasts from the International Energy Agency as the global growth outlook brightens.
“With other risk assets also rising, there is no doubt that optimism over the re-opening of global economies has also helped to fuel the rally after a lengthy consolidation in recent weeks,” said Fawad Razaqzada of Thinkmarkets.
While both the IEA and OPEC, the oil producing countries’ club, have lifted demand expectations, the cartel and its allies plan to reverse pandemic production cuts only slowly.
“Demand looks set to recover at a quicker pace than supply growth. Against this backdrop, investors are happy to keep buying the dips in crude oil,” Razaqzada said.
However, the mood was less decisive on Wall Street, where only the Dow among major indices eked out a gain as traders became wary that a recent string of equity rallies may have reached its end.
CFRA Research’s Sam Stovall said in a note that strategists worry “equities are priced to perfection” following a series of market records in anticipation of the just-begun earnings season.
On Wednesday, leading banks reported blowout profits after they unlocked funds set aside for bad loans.
Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve reported business activity had increased to “a moderate pace” in recent weeks, though it warned of supply chains snarls that pushed prices up.
The Nasdaq fell the most with a 1.0 percent loss, where attention was dominated by the debut of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which advanced 31.3 percent from its reference price amid strong investor interest in bitcoin.
However, Coinbase shares finished at $328.28, well below the session peak of $429.54.
Bitcoin hit an all-time high of $64,870 ahead of the launch, marking continued frenzy around the virtual currency despite concerns about a bubble.
Across the Atlantic, London and Paris were up while Frankfurt fell as Europe enters its own earnings season, with UK supermarket giant Tesco announcing a surge in profits.
The pound, euro and yen all gained against the dollar after a string of strong US inflation readings, the latest of which was the consumer price index for March released on Tuesday, which showed it rising 2.6 percent year-on-year.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell again stressed that central bankers are waiting to see inflation hold “moderately” above the Fed’s 2.0 percent inflation target for some time, and for employment to fully recover before they consider raising the benchmark lending rate.
There have been fears in recent months that the expected strong global recovery will send prices racing higher and force central banks to taper the ultra-loose monetary policies that have helped spur a year-long equity rally.
US 10-year Treasury bond yields, which have move to around one-year highs on expectations of higher interest rates in the future, remained calm throughout the day.
The selloff in Johnson & Johnson stock appeared to be over after US authorities a day prior recommended pausing its Covid-19 shot owing to blood clot fears.
The firm announced it would delay the European debut of the vaccine, a move that comes as AstraZeneca’s jab has raised similar concerns, and deals a blow to the global immunization rollout.
However, analysts pointed out that other vaccines were seeing no problems.
Pfizer also said it had enough production capacity to produce more than two billion doses this year, while the EU Commission said it would receive an additional 50 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech shot in the second quarter to help make up for the J&J shortfall.
“This will substantially help consolidate the rollout of our vaccination campaigns,” Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said.
New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 33,730.89 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.4 percent at 4,124.66 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 1.0 percent at 13,857.84 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 6,939.58 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 6,208.58 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 15,209.15
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,976.28 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 29,620.99 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 1.4 percent at 28,900.83 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,416.72 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1980 from $1.1947 at 2050 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3778 from $1.3751
Euro/pound: UP at 86.92 pence from 86.89 pence
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.94 yen from 109.06 yen
Brent North Sea crude: UP 4.0 percent at $66.24 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 4.3 percent at $62.75 per barrel