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Global stock markets pause following losses

Jan 29,2021 - Last updated at Jan 29,2021

LONDON — European and US stocks stabilised on Thursday, following sharp falls the previous day, as investors tracked surging coronavirus infections, vaccine worries, a stuttering economic recovery, and the plight of troubled US retailer GameStop, dealers said.

Asian equities extended losses after Wall Street shed more than two per cent overnight, following a gloomy Federal Reserve warning over the virus-plagued US economy.

After spending the morning solidly in the red, European markets cut their losses and Paris even moved higher as the opening of trading in North America approached.

On Wall Street, the main indices rebounded at the open, with the Dow rising 0.7 per cent.

Wednesday's losses came after a months-long rally sent several indices to records or all-time highs as investors have started to fret in recent weeks about a possible correction.

"For a global stock market that has enjoyed such solid gains since November such weakness should not be surprising, but as ever the speed of the drop has come as a surprise," said analyst Chris Beauchamp at trading firm IG.

"The overall rally had slowly lost momentum in recent weeks, and the laws of physics have finally taken effect -- what can't keep going higher has to fall," Beauchamp added.



 GameStop sparks 'scramble' 


Markets have also been unnerved by the clash between investors over struggling video game retailer GameStop.

The US group saw its stock surge about 1,000 per cent in two weeks after a group of amateur investors active on online forum Reddit banded together to fight the Wall Street funds that had previously bet on its price going lower. 

"The GameStop saga has sparked worries that certain investment firms are rushing for the exit to obtain cash to nurse any painful losses they are enduring," said analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

"Within the past 24 hours, the mood has changed a lot as there is now a feeling that stocks across the board are in for further losses as a cut-and-run mentality is being adopted by some dealers," Madden added.


Fed warning 


The dollar steadied after the Federal Reserve warned that the US economy was struggling in the face of a new wave of Covid-19 infections that is hammering the northern hemisphere and forcing governments to reimpose strict containment measures.

The Fed said the "pace of the recovery in economic activity and employment has moderated in recent months" and said it would maintain its ultra-loose monetary policy for the foreseeable future.

Chair Jerome Powell added that "overall economic activity remains below its level before the pandemic, and the path ahead remains highly uncertain".

Meanwhile, worries about Covid-19 vaccinations are rife, with the US and Europe struggling to get their programmes into gear owing to supply problems.

The European Union and Britain are locked in a row over access to AstraZeneca's jab, with both sides insisting the company uphold contractual delivery promises. 


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