Large government spending plans once again came to the rescue of the markets, with US stocks last night racing ahead, followed by gains across Asia on Friday. US banks also passed their stress tests, adding another catalyst for markets.
“Joe Biden may have said ‘we have a deal’ on his $1.2 trillion US infrastructure plan, yet the amount is lower than originally hoped for. Nonetheless, investors remain optimistic that the plan will be passed and help to fuel US economic recovery.
“Clean transportation, roads, bridges and major construction projects should all be key beneficiaries of Biden’s plan and investors will no doubt be revisiting opportunities in these areas,” says Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
“In the UK, the FTSE 100 edged 0.1% higher to 7,118, with energy stocks leading the way. It’s quite ironic that oil producers have been a key source of strength for UK stocks this year given how so many people had declared that industry dead. Brent crude continued to trade above $75 per barrel though that could come under pressure if oil producers’ cartel OPEC decides to increase supply.
“The UK Government’s decision to put Malta and Ibiza on the green list for travel gave some renewed hope for the travel sector and lifted shares in EasyJet, Ryanair and International Consolidated Airlines. However, the industry is still frustrated at restrictions which continue to cast a cloud over whether the public will be able to freely visit popular destinations this summer such as mainland Spain and Greece.
“Airlines continue to face pressure on earnings, yet other sectors are enjoying a post-lockdown boost. Among them is the car retail sector where Marshall Motor’s shares jumped 3.4% after it issued a very positive trading update. Used car prices are shooting up and demand remains very strong. The key question is whether this is a short-term boost as individuals seek alternative ways to travel to work than use public transport, or whether the car retail sector is going through a long-term structural change.”