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Stocks advance ahead of earnings onslaught, Fed meeting

·4-min read
Traders will be keeping a close eye on the Federal Reserve meeting this week for an idea about the US recovery and the central bank's plans for monetary policy

Stock markets rose modestly Monday at the start of a busy week featuring Federal Reserve and OPEC meetings and major US corporate earnings.

The dollar was mixed ahead the Fed's rate decision Wednesday.

Oil prices sank on stubborn fears over demand given the spike in Covid-19 cases in India -- a major consumer -- and before OPEC and its allies meet on Wednesday as part of their regular review of production.

After a mixed showing in Asia, European stocks pushed higher while in US trading the Nasdaq and S&P 500 reached new highs, though the gain was narrow for the latter index and the Dow finished lower.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities, characterized Monday trading as a "wait-and-see" session ahead of what is expected to be a busy week in economic news.

"The action reflected that all of the catalysts are in front of us and none of them are today," Hogan said.

About one-third of the S&P 500 is reporting earnings this week. Among the announcements are big name firms like Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet, Boeing, Caterpillar, McDonald's, Mastercard, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.

After Wall Street closed, Tesla reported a jump in first-quarter profits on surging electric vehicle sales and said it was on track to boost capacity at factories in three countries. Its share price fell 2.0 percent in after-hours trading.

- Fed in focus -

In addition to the Fed's two-day policy meeting, this week investors are due to get an initial estimate of first quarter GDP.

"The US economy is in a much better position compared to a few months ago, thanks to government stimulus and the fast pace of Covid vaccinations," noted ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

"So far, the strength of US data has not prevented the Fed from keeping the quantitative easing taps wide open.

"But if the improvement in data persists, then it will only be a matter of time before the Fed tapers its emergency stimulus measures."

US President Joe Biden also is due to make his first address to Congress and may unveil another big spending plan.

Meanwhile, Susannah Streeter, a senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said investor could "glimpse... a post crisis future" on Monday, "where the haves and the have nots will be decided on the speed of vaccination programmes in countries around the world."

She pointed to travel stocks, which soared higher during London trading on hopes that the introduction of vaccine passports could save the crucial summer travel season, along with news US tourists may be able to visit Europe.

Shares of IAG, which owns British Airways and Iberia plus a handful of other airlines, rose 4.1 percent. European carriers also gained, while in the United States, Delta Air Lines was 1.8 percent higher and American Airlines rose 4.4 percent.

Oil prices were however battered as India saw five straight days of more than 300,000 new cases of coronavirus in a surge that has overwhelmed hospitals and left severe oxygen and medicine shortages.

- Key figures around 2130 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 33,981.57 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.2 percent at 4,187.62 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.9 percent at 14,138.77 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 4,020.83 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 6,963.12 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 15,296.34 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 6,275.52 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 29,126.23 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,952.83 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,441.17 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2086 from $1.2097

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3893 from $1.3876

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.94 pence from 87.18 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.11 yen from 107.88 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.5 percent at $65.79 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.3 percent at $61.97 per barrel