Global stocks part ways, bitcoin tumbles

Global stock markets headed in different directions Tuesday, with inflation worries offsetting optimism over reopened economies, traders said.

Bitcoin meanwhile came off the boil following critical comments by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin.

After most Asian markets posted gains, European indices were mixed, with Frankfurt's DAX 30 giving up 0.7 percent.

January's eurozone inflation was confirmed at 0.9 percent compared with minus 0.3 percent in December, official data showed, adding to concerns that price increases are picking up momentum.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 stocks index added 0.2 percent however, a day after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unfolded a roadmap out of UK's coronavirus lockdown from March.

But British unemployment is now near a five-year high at 5.1 percent, and could surge further after the government ends the furlough support scheme keeping millions of workers in jobs during the lockdown.

On foreign exchange markets, the pound traded near a three-year high against the dollar.

Bitcoin stumbled in its record-breaking run, falling to around $47,600 after Yellen pilloried the virtual currency as an inefficient means of payment that consumed a vast amount of energy per transaction.

Oil prices bobbed up and down but showed slight gains in late London trading.

While there is growing hope that vaccine rollouts will help the global economy recover, nagging concern over inflation and subsequent interest rate hikes weigh on stock markets.

"Investors are quickly rediscovering that not all stocks are created equal in a Covid recovery, as expensive tech names (are sold) to provide the source of funds for less expensive travel-related markers, along with energy and other inflation beneficiaries", Axi strategist Stephen Innes noted.

In New York, the tech-rich Nasdaq index showed a loss of 2.1 percent in midday trading.

But "airline shares roared higher on the promise of a salvaged summer season," added analyst Neil Wilson, while noting that "international travel will remain problematic and subject to restrictions, isolation and testing".

Key figures around 1645 GMT

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 31,398.6 points

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,617.60

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 6,625.94 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 13,852.53 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,779.84 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 30,632.64 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,636.36 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2152 from $1.2161 at 2145 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4094 from $1.4064

Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.21 pence from 86.44 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 105.17 yen from 105.07 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $65.44 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP less than 0.1 percent at $61.74

Topics: Global stock markets , Bitcoin , Janet Yellin , foreign exchange markets
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