Global stock markets mixed but remain on pace for best month ever

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Global stocks are ending the week in mixed fashion due to concerns about progress in finding an effective COVID vaccine.

Several scientists have raised doubts about the robustness of the results of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus drug showing the shot was 90% effective in a sub-group of trial participants who, by error initially, received a half dose followed by a full dose.

New data is coming to light suggesting the results were only 70% effective.

As a result, the drug is now undergoing more testing and scrutiny which could delay its approval and arrival on the market.

Markets are also uneasy about U.S. data showing consumer spending weakening and job losses rising.

Supplemental unemployment benefits that supported consumer spending, the engine of the U.S. economy, have expired. Congress is deadlocked on a possible new aid plan.

But that news is only a mild setback for an overall global stock market which remains on course for its best month ever. Joe Biden’s expected electoral college win in the U.S. presidential election, a commodity surge and a weak U.S. dollar all contributed to the rally.

South Africa’s main stock benchmark index extends gains for a second day, rises as much as 0.4% to the highest intraday level since Feb. 20, as banks and diversified miners rally.

FTSE/JSE Africa All Share index was up 0.2% by 9:40 a.m. in Johannesburg. Friday’s advance lifts the index’s weekly gain to 2.5%.

Germany’s, France’s, Italy’s and Spain’s main bourses all squeezed out gains and government bond yields stayed lows after the European Central Bank reinforced expectations of further stimulus next month.

Markets in Shanghai and Hong Kong also gained in Friday trading. However, London and Sydney markets are down.

German 10-year Bund yields traded near two-week lows on Friday, while Portugal’s 10-year government bond yields touched zero for the first time.

The euro, which last bought $1.1924, showed little reaction because currency traders have largely priced in expectations for additional ECB easing next month.

The dollar, which has fallen more than 2.2% so far this month as global sentiment has surged, lessening demand for the safe-haven currency, was near its lowest in nearly three months.

 

Story compiled with assistance from the Associated Press, Bloomberg Africa and Reuters

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