Global Stocks Hit Record Highs On Strong Economic Data

Global stocks are at record highs after strong U.S. and Chinese economic data bolstered expectations of a solid global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Government stimulus, a string of strong corporate earnings and signs of economic recovery in countries ahead in COVID-19 vaccinations have helped push stock markets around the world to new highs.

MSCI's broadest gauge of world stocks edged higher in European trading Friday, up 0.2% to a record high. Europe's top indexes all opened higher, led by Britain's FTSE 100, up 0.5% and passing 7,000 points for the first time since February 2020.

U.S. stock futures pointed to a mixed open on Wall Street, with the S&P 500 up 0.1% and NASDAQ futures down 0.1%

Asian markets tracked a path similar to Europe's. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.5%, with Shanghai shares adding 0.8% and Japan's Nikkei up 0.1%.

Driving the move was Chinese data showing record 18.3% growth in the first quarter. The strong Chinese data followed similarly upbeat numbers out of the United States where retail sales rebounded 9.8% in March, pushing the level of sales 17.1% above pre-pandemic levels to a record high.

The brightening economic prospects were underscored by other data, including first-time claims for unemployment benefits, which tumbled last week to the lowest level since March 2020.

Despite the strong economic data, U.S. bond yields fell, in part driven by buying from Japan, which began a new financial year this month. The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield was last at 1.573%.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar index ebbed in late morning trading in Europe and was down 0.2%. The euro was up 0.2% at $1.1989. The British pound was flat at 1.3791. Gold, meanwhile, bounced off session lows to trade up 0.8% to pass its previous seven-week high of $1,777.9 per ounce.