Global markets gain ground as Biden is inaugurated

·3-min read
Investors are watching to see if President Joe Biden will be able to move quickly on plans for additional stimulus for the US economy

World stock markets rose Wednesday as Joe Biden took the oath of office, in part owing to the new US president's coronavirus stimulus proposal.

Wall Street stocks pushed higher in midday trading, with the Dow gaining 0.6 percent.

As closing bells rang in Europe, Frankfurt was up by almost 0.8 percent and Paris was 0.5 percent higher, while London added 0.4 percent as the pound hit a new 2.5-year peak against the dollar.

Asia had enjoyed a broadly positive session earlier in the day.

The euro sagged against the dollar meanwhile, as dealers mulled Italian political turmoil on the eve of an interest rate decision from the European Central Bank.

Biden's inauguration as the 46th US president drew a curtain on the most tumultuous administration of modern times and set a new course to deal with Covid-19 and unite a splintered nation.

- 'Trump, Brexit in rear view mirror' -

"European markets... (are) looking forward with optimism, with Joe Biden's inauguration marking the end of a four-year period that married up both Brexit and global trade uncertainty," commented IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

"With (former president Donald) Trump and Brexit negotiations in the rear-view mirror, markets are faced with a four-year stint of greater stability and less uncertainty."

Investors set aside concerns over the coronavirus crisis for now -- though Covid-19 continued to cast a shadow as governments kept lockdowns in place.

"The incoming administration is looking to hit the ground running and has some very ambitious plans to combat the pandemic and the economic damage it has inflicted," remarked Craig Erlam, a market analyst at Oanda.

On Tuesday, US treasury secretary nominee Janet Yellen faced senators during her confirmation hearing and urged them to pass the new administration's $1.9 trillion spending package.

She also reaffirmed Biden's intention to maintain pressure on China.

Yellen told lawmakers that China was "our most important strategic competitor" and accused it of "undercutting American companies" by offering illegal subsidies, dumping products at below-market prices, stealing intellectual property and erecting barriers to US exports.

Secretary of state nominee Antony Blinken separately told senators that while he thought "Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China... I disagree very much with the way he went about it in a number of areas".

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 31,117.49 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 3,620.97

London - FTSE 100: 0.4 percent at 6,740.39 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 13,921.37 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 5,628.44 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,523.26 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 29,962.47 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 3,583.09 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2104 from $1.2129 at 2200 GMT on Tuesday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.59 yen from 103.90 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3648 from $1.3630

Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.69 pence from 88.99 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $53.42 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0 percent at $56.43 per barrel