U.S. Equity Markets continued Thursday’s reversal ending the week higher, led by the S&P which closed Friday with a gain of 1.66%. Economic data eased inflation fears. Core personal consumption expenditures (“PCE) came in at 1.4%, below the 1.5% expectation. PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge, which indicates that a spike in inflation is not an issue yet, and that the Fed won’t raise interest rates anytime soon. This falls in line with commentary from Philadelphia Fed president Patrick Harker, who said that he is in favour of keeping policy accommodative until the country is fully on the other side of the pandemic. Other economic data were also positive. Consumer Sentiment rose in March to the highest level in a year, as Americans became more optimistic on the economy thanks to increased pace of vaccinations and the recent round of stimulus cheques. The month-over-month jump from February also marked the largest increase in eight years. European Markets closed near record highs. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi encouraged European Union leaders to employ new powers that would allow them to block COVID-19 vaccine exports until commitments are met. German Business Confidence data for March rose more than expected, indicating companies are increasingly optimistic despite the recent round of COVID-19 restrictions. And the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) said that all 19 Euro-Area countries have enough capital to get through the pandemic and finance an economic recovery. It added that Euro-Zone banks should have enough capital to continue lending throughout the pandemic. On a negative note, the French government extended coronavirus-related social-distancing restrictions to three more regions, as daily cases surge across the country. Elsewhere, Oil gained 3.94% as the blocked Suez Canal likely indicates a temporary disruption to oil shipments while Bitcoin jumped 2.29% on reports that Fidelity was trying to launch a Bitcoin ETF.
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