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Equities ride tech to third week of gains, dollar dips

Equities ride tech to third week of gains, dollar dips 1

By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – Global shares got a tech boost to help tee up a third straight week of gains on Friday, despite growing inflation concerns, while the dollar dipped and oil prices bounced off their lows.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of global shares was up 0.1%, 1.4% higher on the week and just 0.8% off its all-time high. Europe’s top markets all rose, with the biggest, Britain’s FTSE 100, up 0.5%.

European tech stocks, up 1.4%, followed their Asian peers higher, and equity bulls were also spurred on by news heavily indebted property firm China Evergrande Group had met an interest payment, averting a default for now.

U.S. stock futures point to a flat open on Wall Street, after the cash index posted a record closing high overnight, led by surging tech shares.

The risk-on tone came despite growing investor concern that persistent inflation could force central banks to tighten monetary policy at a point where global economic growth remains fragile.

Data on Friday showed euro zone inflation expectations are at their highest in years, amid a rash of warnings from companies including Nestle, ABB and Unilever.

The five-year, five-year forward inflation swap, a key market gauge of long-term euro zone inflation expectations, jumped four basis points on Friday to hit its highest since September 2014 and the bloc’s target at 2.0029%.

Rising prices crimped euro zone growth in October and could set the scene for a tough meeting of the European Central Bank next week, said Neil Birrell, Chief Investment Officer at asset manager Premier Miton.

“The ECB meets next week, it has plenty to discuss, a faltering economy and rising inflation; it is under pressure to tackle the inflation spike but needs to tread carefully with any change in policy.”

However analysts at Bank of America said they expect the ECB to “push back” against those in the market betting it will be forced to raise rates.

Despite concern that inflation pressures could push governments to tighten monetary policy too quickly, Mark Haefele, Chief Investment Officer, UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a note to clients that equities could still move higher.

“With current issues still appearing more temporary than structural, we believe equity markets will continue to move higher,” Haefele said.

“Indeed, small increases in inflation expectations can be positive for markets if it helps to banish fears of deflation. Furthermore, by our assessment, global growth remains strong, supply chain challenges should recede into 2022, and corporate earnings should continue to grow.”

All eyes next week will be on the tech sector again, as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google-owner Alphabet all report, with bulls hoping they can follow forecast-beating earnings this week from Netflix.

By late morning in Europe, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback against six major rivals, was down 0.1% to 93.614, despite initially bouncing off recent lows after U.S. jobless claims fell to a 19-month low, pointing to a tighter labour market.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes, meanwhile, gave up some of the previous day’s gains to trade around 1.6890%, easing back from a five-month high of 1.7050% reached overnight.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has signalled it could start to taper stimulus as soon as next month, with rate hikes to follow late next year. Full employment is among the Fed’s stated requirements for rates lift-off.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell speaks later on Friday in a panel discussion.

Across commodities, oil prices bounced off their overnight lows, up 0.5-0.6%, with both Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate back in the black for the week after earlier threatening to break a multi-week winning run.

Gold was up 0.6% on the back of the weaker dollar, on course for its second week of gains.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Buckland in Tokyo; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Mark Potter)

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