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Wall Street seen off record peak, dollar on losing streak

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Wall Street seen off record peak, dollar on losing streak

By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) – Wall Street futures suggested a softer open on Friday following Thursday's record peak on strong U.S. data and earnings, while demand for risky assets put the dollar on course for its longest weekly losing streak since July.

U.S. stock futures were down 0.4% after the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high.

Data on Thursday showed U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fuelled by massive government aid to households and businesses.

That came against the backdrop of the Federal Reserve's reassurance on Wednesday that it was not time yet to begin discussing any change in its easy monetary policy.

With just over a half of S&P 500 companies reporting earnings, about 87% beat market expectations, according to Refinitiv, the highest level in recent years.

"The Federal Reserve continues to support, Biden has this huge stimulus programme as well and the earnings season continues — so far we have seen relatively benign as well as strong earnings," said Eddie Cheng, head of international multi-asset portfolio management at Wells Fargo Asset Management.

MSCI's broadest gauge of world stocks covering 50 markets dipped 0.25% but remained close to a record peak touched the previous day, up 4.9% on the month.

For both the MSCI world index and the S&P500, analysts are expecting earnings in the next 12 months to recover to above pre-pandemic levels.

In Europe, the euro STOXX index was down 0.22% and Britain's FTSE 100 was flat.

Euro zone GDP data showed a year-on-year drop of 1.8% in the first quarter, stronger than expectations of a 2% fall, though economists said the bloc was on a recovery path.

"There is increasingly bright light at the end of the tunnel," Commerzbank analysts said.

"The speed of the vaccinations is picking up and the EU recovery fund is also finally getting off the ground."

Euro zone economic growth and stocks https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/bdwpkbxmzvm/EZGDP3004.PNG

New coronavirus infections in India surged to a fresh record, however, and France's health minister said the dangers of the Indian variant must not be underestimated.

"Risky assets have had quite a few wobbles within the month," said Cheng.

"We need to get used to the fact that this is not going to be a straight line."

The euro extended its bull run to a two-month high of $1.2150 in the previous session but last stood at $1.2083, down 0.29%, following the euro zone data.

"The euro is more sensitive to the European economic outlook, than to (what) happens in the U.S.", said Kit Juckes, head of FX strategy at Societe Generale.

Germany's 10-year Bund yield, which moves inversely to price, slipped 0.015% to -0.208%.

The dollar gained 0.25% against a basket of currencies, after hitting a two-month low on Thursday, but remained on course for a four-week losing streak, its longest since July.

The Canadian dollar hit a three-year high of C$1.2268 per U.S. unit, boosted by the Bank of Canada's tapering of its bond-buying programme and higher commodities including oil and lumber.

The dollar was steady against the yen at 108.86.

Mainland Chinese shares lost 0.8% while Japan's Nikkei also shed 0.8% on position adjustments ahead of a long weekend. Both markets will be closed through Wednesday.

Oil prices fell a dollar a barrel on concerns about wider lockdowns in India and Brazil.

Brent reached $67.56 per barrel, after reaching a high of $68.95 on Thursday, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell dropped to $64.01 per barrel.

(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Dhara Ranasinghe in London; editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa, Raju Gopalakrishnan, William Maclean; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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