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GLOBAL MARKETS-Wall Street heads for steady open, Intel a bright spot

Wed 24th March, 2021 12:57pm
* Dollar hits four-month highs
    * Oil bounces nearly 3%
    * Ifo cuts German growth forecast for 2021
    * Wall Street set for steadier start after Tuesday tumble
    * Intel shines on investment news
    * Buy a car with bitcoin, says Tesla

    By Huw Jones
    LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - Wall Street headed for a firmer
open on Wednesday, with Intel a bright spot amid investor worry
that global recovery from COVID-19 will be patchier as parts of
Europe enter fresh lockdowns in a year-long pandemic.
    The dollar hit a four-month high, supported by a weaker
appetite for shares in Asia and Europe. Yields eased and  oil
    "We are definitely in that mode of a potential further
reduction in risk, which would be supportive for the dollar,"
said Derek Halpenny, head of research for global markets at
    "If you were to pick a top concern, then it would be the
COVID situation, with new cases in emerging markets back to
record highs and what's happening in Europe. It does not tally
with global optimism for synchronised global growth," Halpenny
    U.S. stock futures  ESc1  pointed to a steadier start on
Wall Street after Tuesday's tumble. Dow E-minis  1YMcv1 , S&P
500 E-minis  EScv1  and Nasdaq 100 E-minis  NQcv1  advanced by
0.4% to 0.7%.
    Intel shares  INTC.O  jumped about 5.7% as the chipmaker
announced plans to spend as much as $20 billion to build two
factories in Arizona and open its factories to outside
customers, sending shares in rivals higher.*:nL1N2LL35U
    Bitcoin  BTC=BTSP  gained nearly 5% as Tesla Inc  TSLA.O 
chief Elon Musk said the company's electric vehicles can now be
bought using bitcoin.*:nL4N2LM1RU
    Wall Street will scrutinise IHS Markit's flash reading,
which is likely to show business activity in the manufacturing
and services sectors improved in March from the prior month.
    Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes  US10YT=RR  last
yielded 1.6278%, slightly lower after reaching 14-month highs
last week.
    European shares hit a two-week low before the pan-European
STOXX  .STOXX  index of leading companies recovered some lost
ground, down 0.19%. Travel stocks were among the biggest fallers
on the prospect of holidays abroad remaining a dream for now.
    Paris  .FCHI , Frankfurt  .GDAXI  and London  .FTSE  were
all weaker.
    "The mood is fairly fragile as all the optimism that
characterised the push higher over the past two or three weeks
in shares is starting to bleed away on talk of a European third
wave and extensions of pandemic lockdowns in Germany and
France," said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC
    The Ifo Institute said Germany's extended lockdown is
delaying recovery. It cut its 2021 growth forecast for Europe's
biggest economy to 3.7% from 4.2% previously.
    The IHS Markit euro zone flash composite purchasing
management index rose to 52.5 in March from 48.8 in February in
a surprise return to growth this month, as factories ramped up
production at its fastest pace in over 23 years.
    But the April numbers could be hit by the gathering pace of
COVID infections across Europe.*:nL8N2LM2F2
    Wall Street tumbled on Tuesday on concerns about the cost of
infrastructure spending and potential tax hikes to pay for
President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief bill.
    Still, the S&P 500 index's  .SPX  75% increase from March
2020 troughs represents the biggest rolling 12-month increase in
the index since 1936, Deutsche Bank noted.
    U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Tuesday the
U.S. economy remains in crisis from the pandemic as she defended
developing plans for future tax increases to pay for the new
public investments.*:nL1N2LL207
    Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told U.S. lawmakers that
a coming round of post-pandemic price increases will not fuel a
destructive breakout of persistent inflation. He meets with U.S.
lawmakers again on Wednesday.*:nL1N2LL207
    Asian shares skidded to a two-week trough overnight and the
dollar neared four-month highs.
    MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of
Japan  .MIAPJ0000PUS  fell 1.1% to 675.81 points.
    In currencies, the dollar index hit a four-month high of
92.608 against a basket of most major currencies  =USD .
 FRX/ The euro  EUR=  edged down 0.16% to $1.831.
    Oil bounced 2% from heavy losses overnight, helped by news
of a ship running aground in the Suez Canal, though traffic was
expected to resume soon.*:nC6N2IM00L  O/R 
    Brent crude futures  LCOc1  rose 2.8% to $62.47 a barrel,
after tumbling 5.9% to a low of $60.50 on Tuesday. West Texas
Intermediate crude futures  CLc1  added 2.7% to $59.37, having
lost 6.2% the previous day.
    Safe-haven gold  XAU=  was higher at $1,731.9 an ounce.

 (Reporting by Huw Jones in London, Swati Pandey in Sydney and
Chris Prentice in Washington; editing by Stephen Coates, Lincoln
Feast, Larry King)
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