In the eurozone, meanwhile, new figures showed a strong uptick in business activity so far in March – but investors appear to be more concerned about the coronavirus-related challenges that could emerge as we move into the spring.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended trading on Thursday level for the week so far, with the S&P 500 down fractionally.
Declining bond yields later in the week helped technology stocks to regain some ground, but there are growing concerns that trade tensions between the US and China on human-rights grounds could hamper global growth this year.
The UK and Europe
In the UK, the FTSE 100 ended Thursday 0.5% down for the week, with investors nervous about the potential impact of an EU export ban on Britain’s hitherto successful vaccination programme.
The declining oil price has also affected the energy companies listed in London: crude values have slumped as a result of global economic growth concerns – and despite the disruption to international oil supplies caused by the ongoing blockage of the Suez Canal by the beached Ever Given container ship.
In Frankfurt, the DAX index ended Thursday’s session level for the week, while France’s CAC 40 lost 0.8%. In Germany, there was some relief as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plans for a “short, sharp” lockdown over Easter in response to the latest upswing in infection rates were shelved. But European investors are hoping that an acceleration of the bloc’s vaccination programme in the coming weeks can start to bring the pandemic under control.
Note: all market data contained within the article is sourced from Bloomberg unless stated otherwise, data as at 25/3/2021.
¹ Unemployment insurance weekly claims, US Department of Labor, 25,3,2021.
² GDP (Third estimate), Bureau of Economic Analysis, US Department of Commerce, 25/3/2021.