Stocks rise as earnings come into focus

London (AFP) –


Stock markets mostly rose and the dollar fell Wednesday as investors shook off a forecast-topping US inflation print and concerns over Johnson & Johnson's Covid vaccine, instead turning their attention to the earnings season, while bitcoin hit another record.

Oil prices jumped 1.6 percent as the International Energy Agency raised its expectations for the recovery in oil demand following hiked forecasts for global growth this year.

Hopes are high for the latest round of corporate reports -- which starts in earnest in the US later in the day -- as the global economy recovers and businesses reopen, with analysts saying they will be keeping an eye on outlooks and executives' views on potential US tax reform measures, among other issues.

"On the back of a convincing string of economic data beats, the economic acceleration should be a powerful tailwind for stocks this quarter and ensure earnings growth," said Axi's Stephen Innes.

"Indeed, earnings tailwinds look set to outweigh concerns around supply chain shortages and rising commodity prices. Importantly, positive earnings and sales revisions have been broad across sectors and industries. Even more so as the Fed continues to leave the policy dial on maximum dovish setting."

Wall Street provided another healthy lead for Asian and European stock markets Wednesday, with the S&P closing at yet another record overnight.

Observers pointed out that traders accepted that inflation would come in on the high side for a few months owing to the low base effect from last year at the start of the pandemic, while optimism over the worldwide recovery was the dominant feature.

- Bitcoin hits new record -

There has been a worry in recent months that the expected strong global recovery will send prices racing higher and force central banks to taper the ultra-loose monetary policies that have helped spur a year-long equity rally.

US 10-year Treasury bond yields, which have risen to around one-year highs on expectations of higher interest rates in future, eased back after the inflation data.

"This would appear to suggest that for all the recent concerns about rising inflationary pressure, the general consensus would appear to be that for now it is being considered transitory," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

US traders initially sold off shares in J&J in response to news that US authorities had recommended pausing its Covid-19 shot owing to blood clot fears, which was then followed by the firm saying it would delay its European rollout.

The move comes as AstraZeneca's jab has raised similar concerns, and deals a blow to the global immunisation rollout. However, analysts pointed out that other vaccines were seeing no problems.

Pfizer also said it had enough production capacity to produce more than two billion doses this year.

Bitcoin hit a all-time high of $64,870 ahead of the much-anticipated debut of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange on the Nasdaq later in the day.

- Key figures around 1030 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,900.78 points

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 6,207.45

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 15,222.24

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,974.79

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 29,620.99 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.4 percent at 28,900.83 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,416.72 (close)

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 33,677.27 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1958 from $1.1947 at 2050 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3764 from $1.3751

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.88 pence from 86.89 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 108.96 yen from 109.06 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.6 percent at $64.68 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.6 percent at $61.15 per barrel