Stocks made a meandering start to the second half of 2021 on Thursday, dipping in Asia on worries about new coronavirus infections and fresh lockdowns, while bond markets were on edge and the dollar crept higher ahead of U.S. labour data.
Equity futures pointed to a small bounce in Europe, after a month-end selloff, with Euro Stoxx 50 futures up 0.4%, while FTSE futures rose 0.1% and S&P 500 futures trod water at record high levels and were last up about 0.15%.
In an Asia session thinned by a holiday in Hong Kong, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.3% and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.4%.
The U.S. dollar edged up to a four-month high of $1.1839 per euro and a 15-month high of 111.18 yen.
“The virus is still playing a role … although it’s difficult to see much direction in anything at the moment,” ING economist Rob Carnell said on the phone from Singapore.
“There’s a broad sense that the dollar isn’t such a bad unit to be holding,” he said, as traders turned to U.S. jobs data due Friday for the next clue on the Federal Reserve’s rates outlook.
“Everyone is a little bit jittery.”
In China, equities cheered the centenary of the Communist Party with a small rise, but a nationalist address from President Xi Jinping in Tiananmen Square did little to soothe geopolitical nerves and the yuan weakened very slightly.