Global stocks are trading sideways near record highs, while the US stock market was closed on Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving Day. The New York Stock Exchange will close early on Friday.
The Wall Street index futures are mixed in early trading on Friday, with the S&P 500 and Dow flashing red and Nasdaq futures trading in the green.
In individual corporate news, Walt Disney said earlier this week that it would lay off around 32,000 workers, mainly at its theme parks. In September, the company planned 28,000 layoffs, citing a declining number of customers due to the pandemic.
Google and Facebook will be under scrutiny in Britain, as the government said it intended to create a Digital Markets Unit to implement a new code to govern the operations of platforms that are now dominating the market. The unit will be part of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The two tech giants are criticized for their digital advertising practices.
The rally in global shares is on hold as one of the main COVID vaccines that boosted market sentiment is under increased scrutiny. The coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by AstraZeneca was regarded as a vaccine for the masses thanks to its low cost and convenient conditions of storage. However, several experts are skeptical about the drug’s efficacy rate of 90%, as stipulated by AstraZeneca. Initially, the drugmaker reported a lower rate, but the efficacy of the vaccine apparently increased after participants received a half dose followed by a full dose after an accidental error. The US and European regulators might delay the approval of the vaccine, which may affect many emerging economies.
In Asia, stocks are mixed in early trading on Friday. Investors are monitoring the second wave of the pandemic in Europe and the US. Meanwhile, the markets are taking a pause from a steep rally that intensified earlier this week.
At the time of writing, China’s Shanghai Composite is up 0.29% while the Shenzhen Component has declined by 0.36%. Official data released earlier in the day showed that Chinese industrial profit (CIP) increased at an annualized 28.20% in October, after a 10.10% growth in September.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has added 0.13%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 is up 0.36% after initial losses. South Korea’s KOSPI has gained 0.25% after opening lower. The country saw another 583 COVID cases on Thursday. This was the first time the number has exceeded the 500 mark since early March.
In Australia, the ASX 200 closed 0.53% lower.
In the commodity market, oil prices are declining after a robust rally that sent futures to their highest levels since early March. WTI is down over 1.60% while Brent is down only 0.04%. Trading volume was low due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. Investors are worried about disagreements in the OPEC countries over maintaining supply cuts after the deadline expires in January. Still, the hopes that the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna would boost economies prevented crude prices from further declines.
Elsewhere, gold is maintaining above $1,800 on mixed vaccine news. The metal has added 0.07% to $1,807. Gold futures traded above $1,950 earlier this month, but prices tumbled on vaccine hopes and after Trump gave his nod to Biden’s transitioning to the White House.
In FX, the US dollar is bearish as risk sentiment has improved worldwide. The USD Index is down 0.08% to 91.892, close to the lowest level in over two years. EUR/USD is up 0.11% to 1.1926.
The British pound is up over 0.10% versus the greenback but slightly down against the euro, as post-Brexit negotiations continue. The next week might be decisive for the trade talks. The two sides still cannot reach consensus on the sensitive issues.