Global Shares Follow UK Lower As New Virus Strain Sends Jitters Through Markets

Global markets fell overnight, with shares in Asia following the US and UK lower, and only uncorrelated safe havens like gold holding firm, as a new, more virulent strain of the coronavirus takes hold.

Japan’s Nikkei and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng both dipped (down 1% and 0.8% respectively), mimicking losses in the US and UK yesterday after it emerged that the virus has mutated into a more contagious form.

European markets have bounced this morning, in particular, the German Dax leading the way up 1.2% boosted by Euro weakness and the new US stimulus package agreement helping to claw back some of yesterday’s losses. US index futures are all trading flat, however.

London – the epicenter of the new strain, saw shares fall hard on Monday – with the FTSE 100 down 1.7% and the FTSE 250 off by 2.1%, amid strict new pandemic restrictions and concerns of food shortages. Investors had a mass of information to digest, including the impact of tier four lockdowns in London and the southeast, countries banning travel from the UK due to the discovery of the new Covid-19 variant, and uncertainty around whether a Brexit trade deal will be reached by the end-of-year deadline.

 

In the US, Tesla made its S&P 500 debut on Monday. Far from the share price bump, some had been anticipating, the stock fell 6.5%, making it the worst performer in the index. However, it is noteworthy that its share price has soared since its impending inclusion was first announced. Aside from broader market sentiment, which sent US stocks into the red on Monday, Tesla’s fall appeared to be in part driven by a Reuters story indicating that Apple plans to enter the electric car market by 2024.

Gold stood out as a winner on the day, rising back to $1,882, as investors looked to alternative stores of value.

Stimulus deal meets lukewarm reception

Two of the three US stock indices were in the red yesterday, as news of a $900bn stimulus deal reached by lawmakers was met with a lukewarm reception. The interim bill was much needed, and ends months of deadlock, but is a far cry from the size of the package that was being discussed earlier in the year. Late on Monday, the House of Representatives passed the deal, meaning a Senate vote is next up. Only two of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors were in the green yesterday, with the financials sector leading the way at +1.2%. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley led the index with gains of 6.1% and 5.7% respectively, buoyed by news that banks will be allowed to resume share buybacks. JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Citigroup all added more than 3% apiece too. At the other end of the spectrum, the emerging, consumer staples, and utilities sectors all fell by more than 1%.

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