1. Stocks Rise as Dismal Jobs Data Spur Stimulus Bets

Stocks rose after data showing a sharp slowdown in U.S. hiring bolstered speculation on further stimulus to revive economic growth as the pandemic ravages the country. The S&P 500 climbed toward another record, led by energy producers, retailers and technology companies. While economists expect vaccinations will lead to a faster pace of job growth in the second quarter, the intervening months could bring more labour-market pain until many more Americans are inoculated.
The S&P 500 gained 0.4% as of early morning New York time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.6%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 2%.

2. Elon Musk Surpasses Bezos to Become World’s Richest Person

On Thursday, Tesla’s shares surged 7.9%, boosting Musk past Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people. Musk is worth $194.8 billion, or $9.5 billion more than Bezos, whose Blue Origin is a rival to Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Ltd., or SpaceX, in the private space race. Tesla’s ascent thrusts its brash founder into a role occupied by only a handful of other people in recent decades and underscores the dramatic stock moves that have upended the global wealth rankings of late. Over the past year the South Africa-born engineer has added more than $165 billion to his fortune in what’s probably the fastest bout of wealth creation in history. 

3. Apple Supplier TSMC’s Revenue Hits Record on iPhone Sales

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. reported record quarterly revenue, joining other Apple Inc. suppliers in signalling strong demand for the new 5G iPhones. The world’s largest contract chipmaker said Friday that December sales totalled $4.2 billion. Shares of Apple’s main chipmaker have rallied more than 70% over the past 12 months and reached a record high on Friday. The company has predicted that the industry “megatrends” of 5G and high-performance computing-related products will continue to drive growth over the long term.

4. U.S. Daily Deaths Surpass 4,000; London Crisis: Virus Update

The U.S. suffered more than 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time, as the pandemic picks up pace. London declared a “major incident” due to a surging number of cases. The U.K. toughened rules for inbound travellers, while the European Union secured an extra 300 million doses of the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE shot. Germany reported the most daily fatalities since the start of the pandemic. Israel agreed to a data deal with Pfizer that will allow all citizens over 16 to be inoculated by the end of March. Moderna Inc.’s vaccination won U.K. emergency approval. Iran banned U.S. and U.K. coronavirus vaccinations, even as it contends with rising numbers of cases.

5. Brent Oil Hits $55 With Saudi Cuts Adding Fuel to Vaccine Rally

Brent oil topped $55 a barrel for the first time since February as gains in broader markets added to investor optimism already buoyed by Saudi Arabia’s unilateral plan to cut output. The move caps a stellar few months for the oil market, with crude emerging as a favoured play to bet on coronavirus vaccines and global reflation. Saudi Arabia’s pledge earlier in the week to cut production by 1 million barrels a day in February and March added vigour to the rally, while Democrat gains in the U.S. have spurred broader markets higher in expectation of additional stimulus.

6. Gold Tumbles Back Below $1,900 as Technicals Drive Selling

Gold dropped below $1,900 as technical selling took over after an earlier recovery in the dollar sent prices falling. Bullion slipped as much as 2% in London, erasing gains made at the start of this year, as stock futures rose after data showed a sharp slowdown in U.S. hiring, bolstering speculation on further stimulus. Gold’s initial drop was exacerbated after prices broke below the 100-day moving average, a key technical level. “The move lower is technically driven,” triggered by a stronger U.S. dollar and higher Treasury yields, said Georgette Boele, an analyst at ABN Amro Bank NV. The metal should now test support at $1,870 an ounce, she added.

7. Fastest Rally in History Takes Emerging-Market Stocks to Record

The emerging-market equity benchmark rose to a record Friday, topping its previous high reached before the 2008 financial crisis, as a flood of liquidity and optimism over a global economic rebound fuel risk appetite. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index rose 1.8%, extending its recovery from the March fall to 79%. The milestone comes after stock valuations and market capitalization both reached record highs in a rally that’s added $10.6 trillion in a little over nine months, the fastest bout of wealth creation in the history of emerging markets. While the flurry of records underscores the strength of the risk-on shift in global markets since Joe Biden’s victory in U.S. elections, it is already sparking nervousness among some investors that emerging equities are overheating. Even though earnings estimates continue to rise, the index has surged so fast that technical indicators are flashing red.

8. White-Knuckle Bitcoin Rally Powers Crypto’s Best Week Since 2017

Cryptocurrencies are on course for their biggest weekly surge since the last bubble in Bitcoin peaked about three years ago, ahead of a spectacular crash. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index, which includes Bitcoin, Ether and three other digital coins, has rallied 52% this week, the most since December 2017. Bitcoin jumped to a new record on Friday, with prices approaching $42,000. Cryptocurrencies are becoming emblematic both of the exuberance in financial markets as well as of the concern that the pace of gains is unsustainable. Believers in Bitcoin see it as a maturing asset that provides a hedge against dollar weakness and inflation risk. 

9. Google Ads Changes Face U.K. Review

U.K. regulators are investigating whether a Google privacy initiative will hurt publishers’ ability to generate revenue, in the first big post-Brexit antitrust probe. The Competition and Markets Authority said it will review Google’s move to curb the ways in which advertising data is collected because the move could “undermine competition in digital advertising, entrenching Google’s market power.” The British investigation adds to Google’s legal headaches around the world. The Mountain View, California-based company faces lawsuits from the U.S. Department of Justice and multiple states over allegedly anti-competitive practices. The increasingly tech-focused CMA is preparing to unveil a new digital regulator later in the spring with powers to rein in firms designated as holding strategic market status.

10. U.K. House Prices Climb to Record as Tax Cut Stokes Market

U.K. house prices rose to a record high last month as a government incentive to buy and a desire to move out of big cities boosted demand. Prices rose 6% from a year earlier in December to an average 253,374 pounds ($340,000). In one month alone, they gained 0.2%. The property boom is being fueled by a tax cut on transactions worth as much as 15,000 pounds to buyers. The Covid-19 pandemic is also boosting interest in moving to larger properties and those outside of city centres as remote working becomes increasingly common. The number of Britons working from home will rise five-fold by 2025, according to a separate survey of chief financial officers published by Deloitte.