U.S. Equity Markets fell despite upbeat economic data, finishing the day lower, led by the NASDAQ 100 which closed lower by 1.25%. As a result the VIX spiked for the second consecutive trading session, closing 7% higher. Markets rose throughout the morning on strong jobs data. Initial jobless claims fell once again, hitting a post-pandemic low for the second straight week. Continuing Claims also hit the lowest level in more than a year. This is a strong sign for the economic rebound. In other economic data, Existing Home Sales fell. However, homes only lasted 18 days on the market, which is another strong showing for housing demand. Markets sold off in the afternoon on reports that President Joe Biden was open to raising the Capital Gains Tax Rate. Biden is expected to make the proposal sometime next week. The consequence could be less investment in the stock market. If individuals are going to be penalised for owning stocks, why would they invest? This is why markets sold off sharply on the headline. In contrast, European Markets closed higher. The European Central Bank’s monetary policy release was the big story in Europe. The central bank left rates unchanged, as expected. ECB President Christine Lagarde said that the central bank will keep policy accommodative, as the recent wave of COVID-19 cases in Europe likely pushed the region into a recession again. She added that the ECB will accelerate the purchase of bonds in order to keep borrowing costs low. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi was said to be preparing a $265 billion recovery package to overhaul the country’s economy, with focus on infrastructure and green energy. Russia’s economic ministry lowered its 2021 growth outlook from 3.4% to 2.9% because of a gradual increase in oil production. Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China injected another $1.54 billion worth of liquidity into the financial system via reverse repurchase operations. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told reporters she had made a formal request to the government to reinstate a state of emergency to try and bring rising coronavirus infections back under control. National Australia Bank’s first-quarter business confidence index showed companies’ outlook is improving, which should portend expanding economic activity. Elsewhere, Bitcoin continued its recent sell-off, closing 4.5% lower while Gold fell 0.53% on Dollar strength.
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