Markets retreat amid new covid worries, Bitcoin volatility rises, Bien’s speech eyed

Markets are edging lower and the safe-haven dollar is gaining ground amid concerns of extended lockdowns, vaccination bottlenecks, and hurdles to passing US stimulus. President Biden delivers an economic speech late in the day, after PMIs. Bitcoin’s range is expanding.

After several days of gains, global stocks are on the back foot and the safe-haven dollar is gaining ground, especially against commodity currencies. Concerns about travel limits in Europe, an extension of Britain’s lockdown into the summer, and also restrictions in Hong Kong are weighing on sentiment.

President Joe Biden presented his pandemic plan, which aims to treat coronavirus as a national emergency and aims to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days. Critics say the immunization plan is unambitious. Biden will deliver a speech on the economy late in the day amid Republican reservation on some parts of his $1.9 billion stimulus deal.

Gold is off the highs amid concerns that the president’s relief package will not be fully materialized. XAU/USD pared some of its inauguration-related gains.

Bitcoin plunged below $30,000 and rebounded above that level as volatility grows. Cryptocurrencies have been receiving more attention from a broader community of investors in the past weeks, following BTC’s ascent.

The European Central Bank left its policy unchanged and seemed marginally more optimistic. However, President Christine Lagarde later urged caution, sending the euro back down from a short-lived move higher. Eurozone Purchasing Managers’ Indexes are set to show a growing divide between growth in the manufacturing sector and a struggling services sector.

GBP/USD is off 1.37 amid the souring mood and amid the disappointing UK Retail Sales, which advanced by only 0.3% in December. Britain’s COVID-19 cases are falling and the vaccination campaign continues at full speed. UK preliminary PMIs for January are on the docket.

Australian Retail Sales figures for December disappointed with a drop of 4.2%, pushing AUD/USD lower.

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