Stock markets rally as US spending deal boosts recovery outlook

HONG KONG (AFP/ APP): Equities and oil prices rose again Friday, building on the week’s global rally, after US lawmakers and the White House agreed a rare bipartisan deal on infrastructure that will provide another huge cash injection into the world’s top economy.
The advance came after the S&P and Nasdaq chalked up more records in New York as traders turned their attention back to the strong recovery from last year’s collapse and away from the expected taper of ultra-loose Federal Reserve monetary policy.
Optimism across trading floors was already buoyant after a string of central bank officials soothed worries that they will take away the punch bowl too quickly.
But buying was given an extra boost by news that Joe Biden had reached an infrastructure deal worth nearly $1 trillion with lawmakers from both parties that could lead to the biggest spending in decades on roads, bridges, ports and broadband.
Politicians had “come together and forged an agreement that will create millions of American jobs, and modernise our American infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world and own the 21st century”, he said at the White House.
He also stressed that it met his requirement of not raising taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. “We’re going to do it all without raising a cent” in new taxes, he said.
“Infrastructure spending strengthens an already very strong economic growth outlook,” said Jeff Buchbinder at LPL Financial. Those investments will “bolster the outlook for corporate profits and should keep this bull market going strong well beyond 2021”.
Asian investors cheered the deal, putting the region on course to end the week on a strong note, with Hong Kong and Shanghai up more than one percent, while there were also healthy advances in Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Mumbai, Taipei, Manila, Jakarta, Bangkok and Wellington.
London rose in early trade but Paris and Frankfurt dipped.
‘Demand recovery has been swift’
And there is a broad view that the passage of the US infrastructure bill will likely fire further gains for equities.
“The positive market tone recognises the potential growth benefits of the compromise, but with the smaller size tempering some of the tax implications to pay for it,” said Kerry Craig of JP Morgan Asset Management.
“Bolstering the support for the US economic and market outlook, many consumers are flush with cash, the labour market is improving, wage growth is increasing, business (capital expenditure) intentions and corporate expansion plans are rising and we have more clarity on the fiscal outlook.”
He added that while the Fed was now moving towards tapering its bond-buying programme, it was likely to move only gradually.
Nowhere is the upbeat outlook more evident than in the oil market, where both main contracts edged up and are sitting around highs not seen since 2018 as traders grow increasingly confident that already strong demand will continue to improve as the recovery progresses.
Traders are now looking forward to the upcoming meeting of OPEC and other major producers where they will discuss whether or not to lift output to prevent a supply shortfall.
“The demand recovery has been swift and there is pressure on OPEC+ to release more barrels, otherwise we might see $80 a barrel by next month,” said Howie Lee at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp.