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Markets struggle after Biden unveils huge stimulus plan

LONDON: Stock markets struggled Friday as investors weighed mounting coronavirus concerns and President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9-trillion stimulus package appeared to have already been largely priced in.
In late morning deals, London stocks dipped 0.7 percent, with sentiment dented by news that the UK economy slumped 2.6 percent in November owing to virus curbs.
Frankfurt declined 0.3 percent and Paris shed 0.5 percent in midday eurozone trade.
Asia also struggled to make gains overnight.
The dollar traded mixed, while oil prices were down around 1.5 percent.
Bitcoin stabilised after a record-breaking run that climaxed last week.
“Most of what Biden announced, with respect to a fresh fiscal aid package for the US economy, was pretty much in line with expectations,” noted CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.
In Europe, more than 30 million coronavirus cases have now been officially recorded, according to an AFP tally based on official health statistics.
Portugal entered a fresh lockdown on Friday while Britain began requiring negative tests for entry, and fresh curbs on populations were announced from Brazil to Lebanon to China.
“European markets are ending the week on a somewhat sour note, with fears over increased lockdown measures in Germany, France and China denting sentiment,” said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.
“A slump in UK GDP for November highlights the detrimental impact lockdown measures are (having) on economic growth — and the highly infectious forms of the virus now evident in the UK, South Africa, Brazil, and Japan do raise the risk of further nationwide lockdowns as the virus spreads.”
Surging virus infections and deaths — and the lockdowns they are forcing governments to impose — are the main stumbling blocks for investors, despite the rollout of vaccines that could allow life to return to some degree of normality.
Just days before he takes office, Biden unveiled his rescue package, which he said addressed “the twin crises of a pandemic and this sinking economy”.
The plans include an extra $1,400 cash handout for individuals — to top up the $600 in last month’s stimulus — a hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour and billions of dollars to ramp up vaccinations so that 100 million are administered in 100 days.
There is also money for struggling state and local governments, the safe reopening of schools and an extension of unemployment benefits.
There is a worry that the bill could be jammed up in the Senate as lawmakers debate the impeachment of Donald Trump, which some observers say could also slow down confirmation hearings for Biden’s cabinet picks.
London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.7 percent at 6,754.99 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.3 percent at 13,943.55
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 5,652.47
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,632.85
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 28,519.18 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 28,573.86 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 3,566.38 (close)
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 30,991.52 (close Thursday)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2138 from $1.2155 at 2200 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.67 yen from 103.80 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3645 from $1.3689
Euro/pound: UP at 88.96 pence from 88.79 pence
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.4 percent at $52.81 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.7 percent at $55.49 per barrel. | YouTube Channel

Ammar Ahmed

Karachi-based Ammar Ahmed, who studied Law, writes on a number of subjects mostly international politics and crime.