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Markets hit by rate hike fears

·3-min read
New York's financial district was in a sombre mood as fear of inflation followed by interest rate hikes took hold

Global stocks fell Friday as the US Federal Reserve's upbeat economic outlook was eclipsed by fears the recovery will fan inflation and push interest rates up sooner than expected.

Huge amounts of central bank and government stimulus have helped the global economy recover from last year's virus-driven collapse.

Major central banks are now grappling with a rapid rise in bond yields, triggered by fears that stimulus-fuelled inflation could herald rate hikes as economies reopen.

Heading into the weekend, the Frankfurt, London and Paris stock markets reversed Thursday's gains to finish in the red.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq prospered as traders bought up tech shares made cheap by a recent sell-off.

The's Fed announcement that a temporary rule allowing banks to exclude central bank deposits and Treasury bonds from capital requirements will expire at the end of the month triggered a sell off in bank stocks, sending the Dow and S&P 500 into the red at the close.

All three indices were lower for the week overall.

"Risk appetite got hit with an early one-two punch after Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken took a hardline approach with his first meeting with China and with the Fed's decision to end a pandemic emergency program for banks," remarked Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at OANDA.

Oil prices rose following an attack on a Saudi oil refinery, while the dollar was mostly stronger.

In Asian trading Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Taipei all shed more than one percent.

Tokyo's Nikkei was dealt an additional blow after the Bank of Japan said it would stop buying exchange-traded funds linked to the index as part of its economic support program.

On Wednesday, the US central bank had sought to placate pessimists by again promising it would not touch interest rates until it is satisfied that unemployment has been controlled and inflation is running hot for an extended period.

- Europe's new lockdowns -

In Europe, investors remain concerned that the region's recovery could be knocked off course as a spike in new Covid-19 cases forces some governments to reimpose containment measures.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday said Paris and some other regions would face limited restrictions after the country saw its highest daily caseload in nearly four months.

Bulgaria and Ukraine were also due to unveil tougher restrictions, while the World Health Organization issued a warning on rising infections in Central Europe and the Balkans.

- Key figures around 2045 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.7 percent at 32,627.97 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.8 percent at 13,215.24 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,913.10 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.8 percent at 3,837.02 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.9 percent at 6,720.39 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.1 percent at 14,621 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.1 percent at 5,997.96 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.4 percent at 29,792.05 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 28,990.94 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.7 percent at 3,404.66 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1903 from $1.1915 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3874 from $1.3925

Euro/pound: UP at 85.76 pence from 85.57 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.87 yen from 108.89 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.9 percent at $64.51 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.3 percent at $61.40 per barrel

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