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Global shares hit new peak, oil up

·3-min read

Global shares have risen for the 11th day in a row to hit a fresh peak on optimism about the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and new fiscal aid from Washington, while tensions in the Middle East drove oil to a 13-month high.

As more people are vaccinated across key markets such as the United States, and with US President Joe Biden looking to pump an extra $US1.9 trillion in stimulus into the economy, the so-called "reflation trade" has gathered steam in recent days.

On Friday, The Cboe Volatility Index, known as Wall Street's "fear gauge", ended at its lowest level for nearly a year, helping drive a 0.2 per cent gain for MSCI's broadest measure of world stocks on Monday.

Taking its cue from a stronger, albeit holiday-thinned Asian session, Europe's major indexes were a sea of green in early deals, led by a near-1 per cent gain for Britain's FTSE 100.

With China and Hong Kong markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, Japan's Nikkei led the way, climbing 1.9 per cent to reclaim the 30,000-point level for the first time in more than three decades.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were also higher, up 0.3 per cent, although US stock markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

Later in the week, all eyes will be on the release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve's January meeting, where policymakers decided to leave rates unchanged, for hints to the likely direction of monetary policy.

Those concerned about the impact of market exuberance on the outlook for inflation will also have fresh data to parse, with Britain, Canada and Japan all due to report. Friday will also see major economies, including the United States, release preliminary February purchasing managers' indexes (PMI).

"In our view, as long as the rise (in inflation) is gradual, equity markets can continue to do well. However, unruly moves would certainly hurt investor sentiment," said Esty Dwek, head of global market strategy, Natixis Investment Managers Solutions.

"Credit spreads have tightened sharply already, but they still have room to absorb some higher yields, making us more comfortable with credit risk than interest rate risk," Dwek added.

Oil joined equity markets in pushing higher, reaching its highest level since January 2020 on hopes US stimulus will boost the economy and fuel demand and after a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it intercepted an explosive-laden drone fired by the Iran-aligned Houthi group.

Brent crude rose 1.6 per cent to $US63.41 a barrel. US crude oil gained 2.1 per cent to $US60.74.

With risk assets in favour, safe havens dipped, with gold down 0.2 per cent to $US1,819 an ounce.

The dollar also remained under the cosh, hovering near two-week lows as traders took a more cautious view of the pace of the U.S. economy's rebound. Against a basket of currencies it was last down around 0.2 per cent.

Bitcoin, meanwhile, recovered some of its overnight weakness to trade down 2.3 per cent at $US47,539.49, below a record high of $US49,714.66.