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Global stocks edge higher at the start of a blockbuster earnings week as optimism over Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package offsets virus worries

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Global stocks rose on Monday at the start of the busiest week for fourth-quarter earnings season, with highly-anticipated results from tech stalwarts like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Amazon.

Since these mega-cap stocks carry a massive weighting in the major US indices, their quarterly results and outlooks are likely to drive the direction of the broader market.  

Futures tied to the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq rose between 0.2% to 0.8%.

President Joe Biden’s administration is making attempts to garner bipartisan support for the proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. The package has been “naively priced by markets as sailing through the Senate unimpeded,” according to Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

The proposal requires 10 Republican votes to clear the Senate. “Noises from Washington DC suggest that President Biden’s honeymoon won’t extend to Senate Republican’s handing over ten votes to ease the package though on a 60-40 majority,” Halley said. “The 60-vote majority can be slimmed to a 51-vote majority through reconciliation, breaking down the bill’s constituent parts, flushing them through a committee and passing that bit with a simple majority.”

Europe is faced with increasing concerns over coronavirus mutations from various parts of the world. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there is some evidence that the UK’s virus variant may be more deadly. Data suggests it could have a 30% higher mortality rate among some age groups. 

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Virus worries left European markets subdued on Monday. The UK’s FTSE 100, the Euro Stoxx 50, and Germany’s DAX were about flat during early trading.

“Learning from past mistakes, ministers have refused to make promises about when the UK will come out of its current lockdown, including refusing to commit to schools opening post-Easter,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.

Asian sentiment was boosted by a UN report stating China surpassed the US to become the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in 2020, with $163 billion inflows last year compared to $134 billion received by the US. 

“The FDI story has definitely lifted China and its near neighbours today, blowing an economic recovery tailwind into geographically adjacent markets,” Halley said.

China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.4%, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.6%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 2.4%.

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