Stocks to Enter 2021 at Record High; Bitcoin Jumps: Markets Wrap

Stocks are set to enter the new year at a record high when the first day of trading for 2021 kicks off in Asia Monday. Bitcoin’s relentless rally continued.

The S&P 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at all-time highs on Dec. 31. Most markets around the world were shut on Jan. 1. Bitcoin topped $34,000 Sunday just weeks after passing another major milestone. The dollar opened mixed against its G-10 peers as trading started in Sydney. The pound dipped as the U.K. faces a tighter lockdown to stem the march of the coronavirus.

China’s stocks will be in focus as Chinese oil majors may benext in line for delisting in the U.S. after the New York Stock Exchange said last week it would remove the Asian nation’s three biggest telecom companies. China’s benchmark CSI 300 Index closed at a five-year high last week.

Equities are beginning the new year at rich valuations amid expectations that widespread vaccine distribution in 2021, central bank support and government aid will reignite economic growth and boost corporate profits. The MSCI World Index of stocks ended at a record high after having risen 14% last year.

Meanwhile, the frenzy in cryptocurrencies shows no signs of slowing down. Bitcoin advanced about 50% in December for the biggest monthly jump since May 2019.

OPEC warned of risks to the oil market from the resurgent pandemic, a day before the group and its allies meet to consider another increase in production.

On the coronavirus front, the U.S. vaccine rollout is picking up speed after a slow start and could be fully on track within a week or so, said Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. New York’s cases slowed a day after the state passed 1 million total infections. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tougher lockdown measures in England, including school closures, will probably be needed as cases of the new virus variant continue to surge.

What to watch this week:

  • OPEC+ alliance energy ministers hold their monthly virtual gathering Monday to decide whether to add as much as 500,000 barrels a day to production.
  • China Caixin manufacturing PMI due Monday.
  • In the U.S. Tuesday, the state of Georgia holds a run-off election for two U.S. Senate seats that will decide control of the chamber.
  • U.S. Congress meets to count electoral votes and declare the winner of the 2020 Presidential election Wednesday.
  • FOMC minutes out Wednesday.
  • U.S. unemployment report for December is due Friday.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index rose 0.6% Thursday.
  • Nikkei 225 futures were little changed, earlier.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index futures fell 1.2% earlier.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index futures fell 0.2% earlier.

Currencies

  • The yen was at 103.19 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan rose 0.1% to 6.4962 per dollar.
  • Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.1% Thursday.
  • The euro rose 0.2% to $1.2240.
  • The British pound slipped 0.1% to $1.3662.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 0.91%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at $48.52 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1,898.67 an ounce.

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