GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks ease further from highs, oil dips on COVID-19 count

  • Reuters
  • Stock Market News
GLOBAL MARKETS-World stocks ease further from highs, oil dips on COVID-19 count
Credit: © Reuters.

* MSCI World down for third straight day

* COVID-19 infection rates suge in United States, Japan

* Oil down, dollar up slightly; Fed action eyed

By Simon Jessop and Wayne Cole

LONDON/SYDNEY, Nov 19 (Reuters) - World stocks eased for the third day in a row and oil fell on Thursday tracking overnight weakness in Asia and Wall Street as widening COVID-19 restrictions weighed on market sentiment.

Positive news about potential vaccines had helped push the MSCI World Index .MIWD00000PUS to a record high earlier in the week, only to see investors pull back as a host of countries announced record infection rates and tougher lockdowns.

At 0844 GMT, the broad gauge of global equities was trading down 0.3% while Europe's major indexes .STOXX .STOXX50E .FTSE were down around 0.7%. Oil prices LCOc1 CLc1 also eased as virus restrictions crimped demand expectations.

The weaker sentiment was triggered by a late U.S. sell-off overnight that had seen the S&P 500 .SPX close down 1.1%; weighed by news COVID-19 deaths in the world's biggest economy had passed 250,000, underpinning a host of lockdowns.

Similarly sombre news in Japan, where a record number of cases and a rise in Tokyo's pandemic alert level sent the Nikkei .N225 down 0.4%. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS fell 0.5%. biggest question in the markets right now is whether the headlines of renewed school closures, lockdowns and social restrictions is enough to derail vaccine positives and the fact that COVID survival rates are climbing along with the hospitalisation and infection rates," said a London-based trader.

The positive vaccine news had continued yesterday after Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) PFE.N said its COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective and it would apply for emergency U.S. authorization within days, following a similar recent report from Moderna MRNA.O . ahead, Wall Street futures ESc1 point to a steady open, with all eyes on the Federal Reserve for further signs it could step in with fresh monetary stimulus - something two officials nodded to on Wednesday. will also await U.S. jobs data at 1330 GMT.

Against a basket of currencies the dollar was last at 92.575 =USD , marginally in the black but just off its recent low of 92.129. The euro, meanwhile, was down 0.1% and just short of the recent peak of $1.1919.

"The vaccines news are a positive medium-term impulse for the global economic outlook and investors are trying to weigh that against the prospect of an imminent stalling of the European and U.S. recovery amid the prospect of extensions of current lockdown measures," said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB.

Sterling GBP=D3 , however, was weaker still, down 0.5% after a report Europe's leaders would demand the European Commission publish no-deal plans as the deadline for talks over a trade deal go down to the wire. the equity market caution, gold traders continued to take a longer-term view, betting the COVID-19 vaccines would translate into a quicker economic recovery, sending the yellow metal to a one-week low XAU= .

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP , sometimes regarded as a safe haven or at least a hedge against inflation, also pulled back and last stood at $17,500.

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