Fed fails to cheer Gamestop-ped markets, US GDP, vaccine news eyed

The market mood is sour amid concerns about tech earnings, exuberance in stocks, and coronavirus concerns. The Fed’s dovish stance failed to cheer investors which now eye US growth figures for the fourth quarter, jobless claims, and vaccine developments.

Gamestop: An army of retail traders buoyed shares of the videogame company, defying hedge funds. The frenzy is seen as a sign of exuberance and a late-stage rally – and is also of worry to regulators and even the White House. Newcomers to markets are mostly organizing on Reddit’s wallstreetbets, which has temporarily gone dark.

The Federal Reserve has left its policies unchanged as expected, acknowledging recent weakness and remaining optimistic about a vaccine-fueled recovery in the second half. Fed Chair Jerome Powell stressed that any talk about withdrawing stimulus is “premature” and committed to supporting the economy. Nevertheless, his dovish words failed to cheer investors.

Facebook and Tesla reported results on Wednesday, falling short of investors’ expectations. These disappointments added to the sour market mood. The safe-haven US dollar is on the rise.

Stimulus: President Joe Biden’s team continues discussing his proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus bill with lawmakers, but is reportedly also ready to go it alone. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is involved in deliberations.

The US releases Gross Domestic Product figures for the fourth quarter on Thursday. An annualized increase of 3.9% is projected after sharp changes beforehand. Durable Goods Orders for December mostly missed expectations, somewhat lowering GDP expectations.

US jobless claims are also of interest on Thursday. Applications are set to drop from 900,000 recorded last week, but they remain worrying – especially as the latest figures have shown that the economic misery is spreading beyond pandemic-sensitive sectors.

EUR/USD is on the back foot due to the risk-off mood and also warnings from European Central Bank about the euro’s high exchange rate. Officials also opened the door to further lowering the ECB’s deposit rate, which stands at -0.50%. Germany and Spain release preliminary inflation figures for January.

The EU and AstraZeneca remain at loggerheads about deliveries of vaccines. The pharmaceutical firm claims that Brussels was late to sign a contract and will, therefore, suffer delays, while the bloc demands immediate deliveries. Regulators are set to approve the jabs on Friday and shortages of doses are already reported in Spain. France is considering new restrictions but has yet to make a decision.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has proved efficient in neutralizing not only the British variant but also the South African one – albeit with a lower impact on the latter one.

Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin is trading above $31,000 after dipping earlier below the $30,000 mark. Ethereum is hovering around $1,300.

Gold is on course to close January with a loss, the first such event since 2013.

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