US stocks
Make or break week for US stocks Image Credit: Gulf News archive

New York: US stocks fell Monday on worries the Federal Reserve will prolong aggressive policies to counter inflation, while Asian bourses rallied on signs China is pivoting from its zero-tolerance Covid policies.

A survey of US services industry companies showed stronger-than-expected activity in November, following Friday's employment report which also topped estimates.

The latest economic reports show "some pretty considerable resilience," said Art Hogan, analyst at B. Riley Financial.

While markets continue to bet on a more modest Fed interest rate hike later this month, traders now see the US central bank lifting its rates to a higher "terminal" level when the cycle of increases is complete, Hogan said.

Major US indices ended decisively in the red following a mixed day in Europe.

Earlier, equity markets in Asia bounced as officials in Beijing and throughout China began easing some pandemic restrictions. Commuters in the Chinese capital were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

The shift comes after Chinese authorities moved to contain rare public protests over prolonged COVID-19 restrictions.

China's vast security apparatus has acted swiftly to smother the rallies, deploying a heavy police presence while boosting online censorship and surveillance of the population.

Chinese state media, which previously focused on highlighting the dangers of COVID-19, shifted tone as measures were relaxed.

Authoritative business news outlet Yicai on Sunday quoted an unnamed health expert arguing that officials should dial down strict virus rules.

Anticipation of a recovery in Chinese economic activity initially boosted oil prices on Monday, but crude later pulled back as markets appeared to bet that more restrictive US monetary policy could limit petroleum demand.

The entry into force of a price cap on Russian crude agreed by the EU, G7 and Australia came into force and the weekend decision by OPEC and its Russia-led allies to maintain oil output levels also supported prices.

"From the OPEC+ perspective, it can't be easy to make reliable forecasts against that (Russia) backdrop and the constantly evolving Covid situation in China, which currently looks far more promising from a demand perspective," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA trading group.

Key figures around 2130 GMT

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.4 per cent at 33,947.10 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.8 per cent at 3,998.84 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 1.9 per cent at 11,239.94 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 per cent at 7,567.54 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: DOWN 0.6 per cent at 14,447.61 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.7 per cent at 6,696.96 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.5 per cent at 3,956.53 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 per cent at 27,820.40 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 4.5 per cent at 19,518.29 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.8 per cent at 3,211.81 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0495 from $1.0535 on Friday

Dollar/yen: UP at 136.78 yen from 134.31 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2186 from $1.2280

Euro/pound: UP at 86.06 pence from 85.79 pence

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 3.4 percent at $82.68 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 3.8 percent at $76.93 per barrel