Equities flat, bonds edge higher as infection rates rise

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity benchmarks were little changed and U.S. government bonds edged higher Monday as investors weighed rising coronavirus infections in parts of Europe and the United States with the expectations of more stimulus measures to support an economic rebound.

MSCI’s broadest index of shares across the globe has gained more than 40% since March lows on hopes that the worst of the pandemic was over. A jump in Germany’s infection rate over the weekend was seen as unlikely to trigger a massive second wave or new lockdowns.

“Markets have climbed back … with stocks proving the doubter wrong yet again as a world of stimulus trumps the reality of economic and health struggles,” said Joshua Mahony, senior market analyst at IG.

MSCI’s global index .MIWD00000PUS gained 0.09% following modest declines in Europe and Asia.

In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 20.26 points, or 0.08%, to 25,891.72, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 4.95 points, or 0.16%, to 3,102.69 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 53.69 points, or 0.54%, to 9,999.81.

The pandemic is accelerating globally with the World Health Organization reporting a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday.

“Coronavirus at-the-margin remains an overhang but the opening up of Europe still looks on much more solid foundations than the US/Americas,” said Chris Bailey, Raymond James European strategist.

Investors edged into perceived safe-haven assets like U.S. government bonds. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 6/32 in price to yield 0.6806%, from 0.699% late on Friday.

The dollar index =USD fell 0.384%, with the euro EUR= up 0.45% to $1.1225.

Credit rating agency Moody’s warned that the stimulus measures will leave advanced economies with much higher debt than they accumulated during the last financial crisis.

“Government debt/GDP ratios will rise by around 19 percentage points, nearly twice as much as in 2009 during the (global financial crisis)… the rise in debt burdens will be more immediate and pervasive, reflecting the acuteness and breadth of the shock posed by the coronavirus.” Moody’s said.

Oil prices steadied on tighter supplies from major producers, but concerns that the rising coronavirus cases could curb demand checked gains.

U.S. crude CLc1 recently rose 0.73% to $40.04 per barrel and Brent LCOc1 was at $42.60, up 0.97% on the day.

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