Good morning & Happy Friday. Commodity prices nosedive, the U.S. lifts mask rules for the vaccinated and Israel prepares for a ground assault. Here’s what’s moving markets.
A broad commodity drop is gripping markets, spurred by U.S. data that showed rising inflationary pressure and raised the specter of less accommodative monetary policy. Additionally, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made televised comments that suggested the country could take action to tame the raw material price rally of recent months. Crude oil futures dropped the most in more than a month, contracts for iron ore plunged and copper was also lower. Meanwhile, a cracked bridge over the Mississippi has brought barge traffic — the main conduit of U.S. agricultural exports — to a halt, sending U.S. futures for corn, cotton and soybeans tanking.
U.S. public health officials said fully vaccinated Americans can ditch their masks in most settings, even indoors or in large groups. The shift in guidance signals a broad return to everyday life, and is also a bet that any surge in spread from relaxed guidelines won’t be enough to reverse progress in inoculations. The administration also used it as a further incentive for vaccination. “The rule is very simple: Get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do,” President Joe Biden said. Also on Thursday, CureVac and GSK released positive early data from laboratory testing of their second-generation Covid-19 vaccine.
Israeli forces launched a blistering assault on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, sweeping aside international appeals for de-escalation. While ground troops haven’t entered Gaza, they are preparing for a possible incursion after four days of aerial bombardments failed to quell the heaviest militant rocket fire yet on Israel from the Palestinian enclave. Trouble loomed on another front after three rockets launched from Lebanon crashed into the Mediterranean off Israel’s northern coast late Wednesday, highlighting the threat of a second battleground with Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militants.
Bitcoin remains on course for a weekly slump of more than 10% after Tesla’s Technoking Elon Musk doubled down on his attack on the token’s energy demands. In his latest tweets, Musk said he “strongly” believes in crypto but that “it can’t drive a massive increase in fossil fuel use, especially coal.” Sceptical voices on Thursday also included Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, who said the popularity of cryptocurrencies represents a search for yield that could be a warning sign. “Buy it if you want but it has no intrinsic value,” he said.
After a rough week in the stock market, European futures are pointing to a gain, following similar rallies in Asia and the U.S. With earnings season winding down in many parts of the…
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