US and European equities hit fresh highs during the week. While the UK’s FTSE 100 Index rallied, it remained below its pre-pandemic level, although the domestically focused FTSE 250 Index also reached a record high.
The IMF said that most advanced economies will emerge from the pandemic with little lasting damage, as they have proved more resilient than many expected. In contrast, with the exception of China, the pandemic is expected to drag on growth in emerging economies, particularly those with limited access to vaccines, weak public finances, and a high dependency on tourism.
President Joe Biden proposed that the largest multinational companies pay levies to national governments based on their sales in each country. Included in the proposals is a plan for a global minimum tax. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has suggested a 21% minimum rate.
The FTSE 100 jumped 2.6% over the week, its best weekly performance since January. The FTSE 250 increased 2.4% to reach a record high as the UK prepares to start easing its lockdown measures.
The IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index for the services sector in March came in lower than the preliminary estimate of 56.8. However, at 56.3, the index was well above February’s final reading of 49.5 and was the fastest rate of output expansion for seven months.
The S&P 500 rallied 2.2% over the week, reaching another record high. while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2.7%.
Minutes of the latest FOMC meeting showed policymakers were largely sanguine about the chances of a sustained rebound in inflation, saying the danger of unexpectedly high inflation was roughly equal to that of unexpectedly sluggish inflation.
The ISM non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index surged to 63.7 in March from 55.3 in February, indicated that activity in the services sector was expanding at the fastest pace on record.
The FTSEurofirst 300 rose 1.1% over the week. European equities hit a record high, helped by a rotation into cyclical sectors.
The eurozone IHS Markit composite purchasing managers’ index revised higher to 53.2 in March 2021, from a preliminary estimate of 52.5, and the second-fastest increase in private sector output in two-and-a-half years.
The Nikkei 225 slid 0.3% over the week.
China’s producer price index rose 4.4% year-on-year in March, the steepest increase since 2018.
Chinese regulators hit online retailer Alibaba with a record fine equivalent to $2.75 billion, saying the internet giant had abused its dominant market position for several years.
Turkish inflation accelerated in March, rising 16.19% year on year – the sixth consecutive monthly increase.
The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond finished the week at 1.65%.
The 10-year German Bund yield closed the week at -0.30%. Italian 10-year bond yields rose to their highest level since early March amid reports that Mario Draghi’s government was preparing to boost public borrowing.
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