COVID lockdowns threaten recovery

U.S. stocks were mixed after the close on Friday, with gains in the Technology, Consumer Goods and Utilities sectors led shares higher and losses in the Oil & Gas, Financials and Telecoms sectors. At the close in NYSE, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.75%, while the S&P 500 index fell 0.14%, and the NASDAQ Composite index added 0.40%. U.S. Treasuries trimmed a rally, with the gap between yields on five-year and 30-year maturities near the lowest since March 2020, over concerns that the Fed could accelerate the drawdown of its bond-buying program.

European stocks ended in the red on Friday, clocking their first weekly decline in seven weeks on concerns over the economic damage from fresh COVID-19 lockdowns in the region that hammered cyclical sectors such as banks and automakers. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.3% after hovering near record highs earlier in the session. The index ended the week 0.1% lower. At the close in Paris, the CAC 40 lost 0.42%, while the SBF 120 index lost 0.49%. At the close in Frankfurt, the DAX lost 0.38%, while the MDAX index fell 0.15%, and the TecDAX index added 0.51%. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said inflation in the euro zone will fade so the ECB should not tighten policy as it could choke off the recovery, and hinted at continued bond purchases next year. The ECB is due to decide on the future of its bond-purchase programs at its Dec. 16 policy meeting.

Asia Pacific stocks were mixed on Monday morning. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.095%. South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 1.42%, with the Bank of Korea due to hand down its policy decision on Thursday. In Australia, the ASX 200 was down 0.59% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched down 0.35% towards the close.

The Russian stock market, which started trading with confident growth, ended Friday with a significant drop in indices. The Moscow Exchange index fell by 1.89% and amounted to 4016.47 points. The RTS index fell 2.17% to 1,723.74 points.

Oil prices fell about 3% to below $80 a barrel on Friday as surging COVID-19 cases in Europe threatened to slow the economic recovery while investors also weighed a potential release of crude reserves by major economies to cool prices. Brent futures for January fell $2.35, or 2.9%, to settle at $78.89 a barrel.