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  • Our headings about vaccines, stimulus packages and new lockdowns in the last Market Outlook before our Christmas and New Year break remain topical, but this week we are also focusing on purchasing managers' indices (PMIs) and American politics.

  • Stock markets are torn between concerns about lockdowns and roll-outs of COVID-19 vaccines. After strong upturns in November, equities have entered a consolidation phase with smaller share price movements. While negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union on a post-Brexit trade pact were extended for the umpteenth time, last week's summit of EU political leaders finally reached agreement on the union's 2021-2027 long-term budget and coronavirus recovery package. Due to optimism about better economic conditions next year, Brent crude oil prices have also climbed above USD 50/barrel for the first time since March.

  • In the United States the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Index, Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 equity indices all reached all-time highs on Friday, December 4. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq then reached new all-time highs on Tuesday, December 8. US employment data for November were disappointing, but stock and fixed income markets are assuming that there is an increasing probability of new stimulus measures and that mass vaccinations against COVID-19 will soon begin.

  • A mixture of vaccine optimism and stimulus pessimism resulted in a rather bumpy stock market last week, which began with a record high for the MSCI World Index and ended with declines in US equity indices. But this week has begun with rising indices.

  • We have recently seen an increase in risk appetite and a clear rotation towards lower-valued companies, as well as stronger economic conditions and somewhat higher government bond yields. The rotation from high-priced technology stocks to value stocks continued early this week after encouraging COVID-19 vaccine news and hopes of a faster economic recovery.