World stocks firm as stimulus fuels economic optimism

(Reuters) – Global stock prices were off to a solid start while U.S. bond yields hovered near a 13-month peak on Monday as investors bet U.S. economic growth will accelerate after the passing of a massive stimulus package.

U.S. S&P500 futures rose 0.25% in early Asian trade, trading just below a record high level touched last week, while Japan’s Nikkei ticked up 0.1%

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed.

“With the $1.9 trillion economic package approved, there are strong expectations of an economic recovery, which will be supporting cyclical shares,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval last week to the COVID-19 relief bill, giving President Joe Biden his first major victory in office.

Some investors speculate part of $1,400 direct payments to households could find its way to stock markets, as seemed to be the case with similar direct payments made last year for coronavirus relief.

Investors also suspect the $1.9 trillion package, which amounts to more than 8% of the country’s GDP, could not only boost growth but stoke inflation – to the detriment of bonds.

Rising inflation expectations could prompt the Federal Reserve to signal it will start raising rates sooner when it announces its latest economic projections at the end of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on Wednesday.

“Following the fiscal stimulus packages it is inevitable

that Fed GDP forecasts will be revised up, and some FOMC members might think rates will have to move higher sooner than they anticipated last December,” wrote economists at ANZ.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield stood at 1.638% in early Monday trade, having risen to as high as 1.642% on Friday, a high last seen in February last year.

On top of continued U.S. economic optimism and increased debt supply expectations after the stimulus, uncertainties about whether the Fed will extend an emergency regulatory easing in the so-called “supplementary leverage ratio” (SLR) added to the sense of unease.

Higher U.S. bond yields saw the dollar rising against other major currencies.

The euro slipped to $1.1953 from last week’s high of $1.1990 while the dollar held firm at 109.07 yen, near nine-month high of 109.235 set last Tuesday.

The British pound slipped 0.25% to $1.3934.

Bitcoin slipped to $59,691, off a record high of $61,781 hit on Saturday after Reuters reported a senior Indian government official said Delhi will propose a law banning cryptocurrencies, fining anyone in the country trading or even holding such digital assets.

Oil prices were supported by production cuts by major oil producers and optimism about a demand recovery as the global economy recovers from the pandemic-induced recession.

U.S. crude futures traded at $65.93 per barrel, up 0.5% on the day.