World stocks pull back as virus worries resurface

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 19 2020 08:22 AM

World stocks pull back as virus worries resurface 1
The "Fearless Girl" statue is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange following the trading session after the building opened for the first time since March while the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in the Manhattan borough of New York, US, May 26, 2020. Mike Segar, Reuters

NEW YORK -- Stock markets eased back on Thursday as worries that the world has not seen the last of the coronavirus pandemic caused investors to take some profits after a recent strong run.

US data showing 1.5 million workers filed for unemployment benefits last week -- only slightly less than the prior week -- added to jitters about the economic outlook.

In Europe, investors were underwhelmed by the Bank of England's latest monetary policy decisions, which undermined the pound and London stocks.

Wall Street finished little changed after a choppy session, as investors weighed weak economic data against optimism over the impact of monetary stimulus.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, described the market as being "in a bit of a stalemate" with worrisome economic and coronavirus trends offset by reassuring support from the Federal Reserve and hopes for coronavirus treatments.

Global markets were still "a bit cautious as uncertainty regarding a second wave of COVID-19 continues to simmer, countering recent economic data that has suggested improvement as economies reopen," said analysts at Charles Schwab.

Earlier, Asian equity indices had closed mixed after a 2-day rally.

The Bank of England on Thursday unveiled an extra £100 billion of cash stimulus to prop up Britain's coronavirus-hit economy, a figure in line with expectations, but analysts said the market had hoped for some forward-looking reassurance.

"BoE watchers could feel a little short-changed," said Kallum Pickering at Berenberg.

"The market had expected a clear signal that the BoE would ease policy significantly further at a later date or that the bank was seriously contemplating further expanding its toolkit in response to the COVID-19 mega-recession," he said.

While countries are slowly reopening their economies -- with flights resuming, bars, cafes and restaurants serving people and professional football returning -- new infections continue to surge in some places and are flaring up again in others.

Eyes are on Beijing, which has imposed new lockdowns, closed schools and banned flights again after the emergence of new clusters.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations have risen in Texas among other US states since Memorial Day, and California on Thursday required face masks in public indoor spaces following a jump in cases.

KEY FIGURES AROUND 2030 GMT (4:30 a.m. Friday in Manila)

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 26,080.10 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 3,115.34 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.3 percent at 9,943.05 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 6,224.07 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.8 percent at 12,281.53 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.8 percent at 4,958.75 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,249.90 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.5 percent at 22,355.46 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1 percent at 24,464.94 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,939.32 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.3 percent at $38.84 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.0 percent at $41.51 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1203 from $1.1244 at 2050 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.99 yen from 107.01

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2422 from $1.2555

Euro/pound: UP at 90.18 from 89.55 pence


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