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Vaccine worries rattle Europe, US unfazed

Tesla, man and machine

European stocks edged lower, and bonds rallied as more countries halted the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine and Italy went back into lockdown.  Global markets appeared to take the view that this is a problem specific to Europe, as base metals rallied and currency markets traded calmly.

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have all suspended distribution of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine on reports of adverse reactions, including blood-clotting. The suspensions came despite the European Union’s drug regulator repeating their view that the vaccine is safe. The delays add to existing frustrations that the continental roll out is significantly slower that the UK or US.

Asia Pacific futures markets indicate the region will follow positive US leads rather than heed the vaccine concerns. All 3 major US indices rose, but the Nasdaq outstripped the S&P 500 index, potentially reflecting lower interest rate concerns. The rally in bond markets pointed to expectations that the 12 central banks meeting this week will continue to downplay inflation concerns.

Crypto markets fell. Bitcoin is now more than $5,000 below its peak hit in after-hours trading over the weekend, and pressure is spreading across the major issues. CMC’s Major Crypto Index chart completed a double top formation, heralding further selling pressure.

Steady trading is the most likely scenario ahead of the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve interest rate decisions on Thursday. Japanese industrial production and Australian house price data could have local impacts. Tonight’s read on French inflation may have more influence, especially if prices have risen more than the expected 0.4% year on year.

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