Europe Markets: Stocks struggle for direction and bond rally continues with coronavirus situation worsening


European stocks inched higher while investors retreated into bonds, with the global coronavirus situation worsening and the vaccine rollout being hampered by safety concerns.

The global coronavirus tally reached a weekly record of 5.2 million infections, Bloomberg News reported, citing Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. has halted use of pharmaceutical Johnson & Johnson’s

vaccine while investigating how it leads to blood-clot deaths, as many countries have limited drug company AstraZeneca’s

shot over similar fears.

The virus concerns come as the U.S. reached the milestone of having more than half its adult population receiving at least one dose. The European vaccination campaign also is ramping higher after a slow start.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index

edged up 0.2%, while U.S. stock futures

edged lower. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury
fell to 1.56%. Yields move in the opposite direction to prices.

“The further decrease in U.S. yields last week shows that the bar for a continued selloff has been raised,” said analysts at Generali Investments, the fund management arm of the Italian insurer. U.S. economic data released last week showed a strong recovery, with retail sales rising nearly 10% in March.

The biggest market move was in the cryptocurrency space, with bitcoin

sliding over the weekend.

Of stocks on the move, ABN Amro

rose 3%, as the Dutch bank agreed to pay a €480 million fine after the Dutch Public Prosecution Service found serious shortcomings in its anti-money-laundering procedures.

The same investigation led Danske Bank Chief Executive Chris Vogelzang to resign, sending the Danish bank’s

stock down 2%. Vogelzang held roles at ABN Amro including global retail and private banking activities. Vogelzang said Danske Bank is under “intense scrutiny,” particularly in relation to anti-money-laundering as a consequence of the still unresolved Estonian matter.

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