U.S. Equity Markets took a breather yesterday after hitting all-time highs, closing the day mixed as the S&P closed 0.11% lower while the Small Cap Russell 2000 closed at yet another all-time high with a gain of 0.43%. There were few drivers in yesterday’s session. House Democrats released a first draft coronavirus-aid bill that included stimulus cheques worth $1,400, hoping for a vote by the end of February. The White House added that any stimulus package was likely to be passed through reconciliation, conceding that a bipartisan agreement won’t happen. Federal Reserve speakers reiterated continued support for the economy. Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin said that the economy still needs support, while adding that the tapering of asset purchases was not on the horizon. In terms of economic data, Job Openings rose in December, indicating that businesses are looking to hire more. But the pace of actual hirings fell. Earnings season is still something to watch, with the final major reports coming this week. European Markets closed lower. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde pledged continued economic support as the coronavirus pandemic remains a significant downside risk. The Bank of France said the country’s economy was running about 5% below pre-pandemic levels, while also reaffirming its estimate for 5% growth in 2021. German export data for the month of December were stronger than expected, indicating activity in Europe’s largest economy continues to hold up despite social-distancing restrictions. European Union Coronavirus vaccinations rose to 17.2 million yesterday, with a daily average of 643,000 doses administered over the last week. Elsewhere, Bitcoin surged by a further 6.67% while Oil and Gold closed flat.
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