Equities hit five-month peak, bonds dip as earnings season starts

NEW YORK (Reuters) – World equity benchmarks hit a five-month peak and perceived safe -havens such as the dollar and U.S. government bonds dipped on Monday as investors turned to second-quarter earnings for signs that corporate profits will recover from the economic toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wall Street banks JPMorgan, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are set to kick off a U.S. results season on Tuesday that Refinitiv data suggests will show the second-biggest quarterly drop in corporate earnings since 1968.

“Equity indices are clearly trying to look through into Q3 and beyond, but with the U.S. struggling to shake off the coronavirus phase one, this should be factored into equity risk premia,” said Raymond James European strategist Chris Bailey.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1.32%, touching its highest since February following broad gains in Europe and Asia. The index is now down 0.14% since the start of the year.

In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 403.58 points, or 1.55%, to 26,478.88, the S&P 500 gained 41.46 points, or 1.30%, to 3,226.5 and the Nasdaq Composite added 184.46 points, or 1.74%, to 10,801.90.

The S&P 500 is now down 0.2% for the year to date.

“Ongoing grim U.S. COVID-19 infection news continues to be summarily ignored in favor of ongoing optimism regarding the timeline for the discovery and rapid roll-out of an effective vaccine and/or more policy support for asset prices and the U.S. economy,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB.

The risk-on rally saw the U.S. dollar dip 0.2% against a basket of major currencies and Italy’s 10-year yield hit the highest level in over a week at 1.33% as investors bagged profits after the recent rush to safety cooled.

The euro, meanwhile, rose 0.5% to $1.135 to maintain its slow uptrend since late last month. Looming large for the common currency was a planned EU summit on July 17-18, where leaders need to bridge gaps on long-term budget and economic stimulus plans.

“If an agreement weren’t to be reached there, then they still expect one within weeks. It’s worth remembering that there are a number of complex issues to be worked out,” Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said.

U.S. Treasury yields edged higher after 5-year yields hit record lows last week. U.S. five-year yields rose to 0.299% on Monday. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 0.643%, from 0.633% late on Friday.

Super-low rates have been a boon for non-yielding gold which hovered near nine-year highs after five straight weeks of gains. Spot gold added 0.5% to $1,807.48 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.38% to $1,805.00 an ounce.

U.S. crude recently rose 0.12% to $40.60 per barrel and Brent was at $43.24, flat on the day.

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