Optimism drives share prices in April

11th May, 2021

Global equity markets generally rose during April, buoyed by encouraging economic data from the US. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgraded its forecasts for global growth from 5.5% to 6% in 2021 and from 4.2% to 4.4% in 2022 but warned that policymakers will continue to face challenges from an uneven global recovery and a widening gulf between rich and poor. Meanwhile, the global death toll from Covid-19 exceeded three million during April, according to Johns Hopkins University, and Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that “cases and deaths are continuing to increase at worrying rates”.

In the US, President Biden marked his first 100 days in office by announcing further spending plans worth around US$4 trillion. The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan will focus on employment, education, welfare, and climate change, but will still need to be approved by lawmakers. The US economy expanded at an annualised rate of 6.4% during the first quarter of 2021, having grown by 4.3% during the final three months of 2020. Concerns that the economy might be in danger of overheating were compounded by a rapid increase in the rate of consumer price inflation; however, the Federal Reserve (Fed) dismissed the rise as “transitory”. The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index rose by 2.7% over the month.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 Index breached 7,000 points for the first time since before the coronavirus pandemic took hold, boosted by intensifying optimism about domestic and global economic recovery. The UK continued its gradual reopening from lockdown and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a sharp increase in economic activity: as non-essential shops reopened from 12 April, sales of “delayable goods” such as clothing and furnishings rose above pre-pandemic levels, reaching 110% of their February 2020 level. During April, the FTSE 100 Index climbed by 3.8%.

The eurozone slipped into a “double-dip” recession, having tipped back into recession during the first three months of 2021. President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Christine Lagarde warned that the risks to Europe’s economy associated with the Covid-19 pandemic remain tilted to the downside in the short term; in the longer term, however, risks to the economic outlook have become “more balanced”. The Dax Index rose by 0.8% during April.

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This article was sourced from Adviser-Hub.co.uk.

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