Global stocks drop as rising coronavirus cases in Europe worry investors – with all eyes on Jerome Powell and Janet Yellen

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Global stocks slipped on Tuesday as much of Europe tightened COVID restrictions Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Global stocks fell on Tuesday, as rising coronavirus cases in Europe worried investors and US futures slipped after a tech rally on Monday.

Dow Jones futures were down 0.33% and S&P 500 futures were off by 0.36%. Nasdaq 100 futures slipped 0.31% after the index rose 1.71% on Monday when bond yields eased.

China’s CSI 300 fell 0.95% overnight while Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.61%.

In Europe, the continent-wide Stoxx 600 index fell 0.58% while London’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.4% despite the UK unemployment rate unexpectedly falling to 5%. Turkish stocks sank as much as 7% before recovering after the president sacked the country’s central bank chief.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, will go back into a strict lockdown over Easter to try to curb rising coronavirus cases. France has tightened lockdown measures in many regions, while Italy has imposed new restrictions a year after it became the first European country to do so.

“This presents a problem for the travel sector and the potential for a speedy recovery, given the slow nature of the [vaccine] rollout due to supply as well as hesitancy concerns,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said.

Global stocks have had a volatile time recently as rising bond yields have made equities – particularly those of expensive tech companies – look less attractive.

But the yield on the key 10-year US Treasury note fell 3.5 basis points to 1.647% on Tuesday, well below a high of more than 1.7% touched the previous week.

All eyes will be on the US’s House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, where Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will make their first joint appearance.

Some investors are worried the Fed will cut back on its support for the economy sooner than expected, as the US economy rebounds rapidly.

Powell has been keen to push back on this idea, and said in a pre-released statement: “The recovery is far from complete, so, at the Fed, we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.”

Marshall Gittler, head of investment research at BDSwiss, said: “What we’re really waiting for is the Q&A, during which time I’d expect the grandstanding Congressfolk to ask about their views on recent volatility in the Treasury market.”

Oil prices continued to fall back from more than one-year highs, as traders reacted to the possibility of another summer without global travel.

The Brent crude price fell 2.83% to $US62.78 ($81) a barrel, while WTI crude dropped 2.99% to $US59.72 ($77) a barrel.

In Turkey, stocks plunged as much as 7%, triggering the market’s circuit-breakers for the second day running as investors reacted to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to sack the country’s central bank chief.

Stocks then stabilized, however, and were roughly 1.9% lower by the early afternoon. The lira also stabilized near record lows, slipping 0.25% to $US0.128 after plunging 7.5% on Monday.

Nonetheless, Commerzbank analyst Tatha Ghose said in a note “the next lira crisis is upon us.”

Ghose said the trigger “is the same as which started off the 2018 lira crisis: the president forcefully re-asserts his unconventional monetary policy philosophy, making it clear that an unknown policy experiment will now be conducted.”