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Markets extend rally on recovery hopes

·3-min read
WTI prices broke $60 a barrel for the first time in 13 months on recovery hopes and as a cold snap hit Texas production

Global stock markets and oil prices soared on Monday, boosted by progress on Covid vaccinations and increasing chances of a vast US stimulus, dealers said.

London equities jumped 2.5 percent and the pound rallied following weekend news that more than 15 million people in Britain have so far received Covid-19 vaccines.

Sterling leapt to $1.3918, which was the highest point since April 2018, while the euro sank to 87.18 pence, a level last seen in May.

Paris stocks soared 1.5 percent and Frankfurt gained 0.4 percent, while Milan won 0.8 percent after former European Central Bank boss Mario Draghi was named Saturday as Italy's new prime minister.

Wall Street was closed on Monday for US Presidents Day.

- Investor optimism over virus -

"There's real momentum behind the global recovery trade and with every passing week, it seems investors are becoming more optimistic about it," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam said.

"The vaccine rollout is providing enormous encouragement, with the UK surpassing 15 million vaccinations and the topic of conversation finally turning to reopening the economy," he added.

Stocks have been surging for months as vaccination programmes kick into gear and fewer people come down with the virus, fuelling hopes that economically painful containment measures can begin to be lifted.

Oil hit peaks not seen since last January, with New York crude topping $60 per barrel, boosted also by supply fears amid a severe cold snap in key producer state Texas.

In Asia, Tokyo was the standout performer on Monday, with the Nikkei 225 breaking through 30,000 points for the first time in 31 years as data showed Japan's economy performed better than expected at the end of last year.

- US bazookas -

The end of Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial at the weekend, meanwhile, allows US lawmakers to concentrate on pushing through President Joe Biden's vast rescue package.

There had been an expectation that the $1.9 trillion proposal could be watered down as Republicans and some Democrats pushed back against its size, but there is an increasing belief that the final figure could be closer to the president's plan.

"Investors are beginning to revel again in the US fiscal and monetary bazookas that show no abating signs," said Axi strategist Stephen Innes.

On the downside in Asia, Wellington stocks fell on news that two coronavirus infections that have prompted a snap lockdown of Auckland were the country's first cases of the highly contagious strain first detected in Britain. Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei were closed for holidays.

Bitcoin retreated after hitting a new record of $49,694.24 over the weekend after MasterCard and US bank BNY Mellon announced plans last week to make it easier for people to use the cryptocurrency. It stood at about $48,400 on Monday.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 2.5 percent at 6,756.11 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 14,109.48 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.5 percent at 5,786.25 (close)

Milan - FTSE MIB: UP 0.8 percent at 23,604.31 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.0 percent at 3,734.20

New York - Dow: Closed for a holiday

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.9 percent to 30,084.15 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: Closed for a holiday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3912 from $1.3849 at 2200 GMT

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2132 from $1.2120

Euro/pound: DOWN at 87.20 pence from 87.52 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 105.35 yen from 104.94 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.0 percent at $63.67 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.8 percent at $60.95

burs-rl/mjs