Stocks rise, bonds sell off as the ‘reflation’ trade gathers pace

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange, in New York City
FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York City, New York, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

February 16, 2021

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street joined a global march propelling stock indexes to record highs on Tuesday, with investors selling government bonds in a bet that COVID-19 vaccinations and U.S. stimulus will deliver a durable economic recovery after a year of lockdowns.

Bitcoin added to the bullish mood, climbing above $50,000 for the first time, while prospects of “reflation” – a boost in inflation from extraordinary fiscal stimulus – pushed U.S. Treasury yields higher.

U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Wisconsin on Tuesday to press his case for a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill in the political battleground state that helped secure his victory in last year’s presidential election.

The MSCI’s global stock index was up 0.11% at 685.81 after hitting a record high of 687.26 earlier in the session. A positive close would mark the 12th consecutive day of gains for the first time since January 2004.

Wall Street’s main indexes opened at all-time highs, with investors piling into economically sensitive stocks on hopes of more fiscal aid to lift the world’s biggest economy from its coronavirus-driven slump.

“I think it’s a global reflation trade very much in play, that risk-on positive investor sentiment is still very much with us,” said Derek Halpenny, head of research for global markets at MUFG.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 64.4 points, or 0.2%, to 31,522.8, the S&P 500 gained 2.87 points, or 0.07%, to 3,937.7 and the Nasdaq Composite added 9.34 points, or 0.07%, to 14,104.81.

The S&P value index, which includes bank, energy and industrial sectors, has risen more than 6% in the past two weeks, slightly outperforming the growth index, which is skewed more toward technology.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index was 0.09% lower, but still hovering near the near-one-year high hit earlier in the session, as investors bet a bumper U.S. stimulus package will power global economic growth this year.

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields raced above 1.26% for the first time since last March as expectations of extended fiscal and monetary stimulus alongside hopes of an economic upswing gave the reflation trade another leg higher.

“The market has fully embraced the prospects of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus, and the accelerated vaccine rollout is support of further bearish price action as well,” Westpac strategists told clients.

Bond yield curves – considered a reliable barometer of growth expectations – have also steepened, with the gap between two-year and 10-year U.S. notes now around 114 bps, the widest since April 2017.

The U.S. dollar index<=USD> was 0.17% higher, lingering close to the three-week low hit earlier in the session.

Bitcoin soared above $50,000 to an all-time high, adding steam to a rally fueled by signs that the world’s biggest cryptocurrency is gaining acceptance among mainstream investors and companies.

Graphic: Bitcoin crosses $50K – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/buzz/oakvermrepr/Pasted%20image%201613479653838.png

Oil prices hovered near 13-month highs, supported by a cold snap that shut wells in Texas, the biggest U.S. producing state, although gains were capped by a wage deal in Norway that averted supply disruptions in Europe.

Brent crude was trading at $63.15 a barrel, off 0.24%, after rising to its highest since January 2020 in the previous session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 0.72%, to $59.9 a barrel.

Spot gold XAU= was down 0.45% at $1,810.31 an ounce.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Dan Grebler)