By Peter Nurse
Investing.com – European stock markets are seen opening largely unchanged Tuesday, after a suite of U.S. Federal Reserve officials hinted that it could start reducing its monetary stimulus later this year.
Three regional Fed Presidents — Richmond’s Tom Barkin, Atlanta’s Raphael Bostic and Dallas’ Robert Kaplan — all hinted more or less clearly that the ‘tapering’ of bond purchases could begin toward the end of 2021. The Fed is currently pumping $120 billion a month into the economy through such asset purchases.
At 2:05 AM ET (0705 GMT), the contract in Germany traded 0.1% higher, in France climbed 0.1%, while the contract in the U.K. fell 0.1%.
Global equity markets have posted strong gains over the last few weeks, boosted by stimulus from central banks and governments alike, and the idea that vaccinations were on their way.
This tone was helped by the prospect for additional U.S. fiscal stimulus after a Democratic sweep of Congress, with President-elect Joe Biden pledging Friday a new economic stimulus “in the trillions of dollars.”
The , for example, reached its all-time high at the end of last year, while the indexes on Wall Street have posted record closes on a regular basis into 2021.
However, investors are now starting to weigh up whether valuations are becoming too stretched, especially with a global surge in Covid-19 cases, following the emergence of new highly transmissible strains of the virus. That’s posing fresh challenges for governments that are still only in the early stages of vaccination campaigns.
Additionally, political uncertainty has increased in the U.S.: Democrats introduced a resolution into the House of Representatives to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing him of inciting insurrection following a violent attack on the Capitol by his supporters last week.
Back in Europe, the Italian banking sector will be in focus Tuesday after Monte dei Paschi said it would grant access to confidential data to potential merger partners selected by its advisers, as the Italian government presses ahead with plans to cut its stake in the state-owned bank.
Both UniCredit (MI:), Italy’s second-biggest bank, and Banco Bpm SpA (MI:), Italy’s third-largest bank, have been linked with Monte dei Paschi in the past.
Oil prices edged higher Tuesday, remaining supported by last week’s pledge by Saudi Arabia to voluntarily cut production by 1 million barrels per day as well as the expectation of additional U.S. fiscal support. However, gains are limited amid worries about demand growth as the number of global Covid-19 cases tops 90 million.
Focus will now turn to the publication of reports concerning U.S. oil stockpiles from industry group on Tuesday and the , the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy, on Wednesday.
futures traded 0.6% higher at $52.58 a barrel, while the international benchmark contract rose 0.6% to $55.99.
Elsewhere, rose 0.5% to $1,859.35/oz, while traded 0.1% higher at 1.2159.