A recovery in world stocks faltered on Monday as the threat of rising coronavirus infections in parts of Europe and the United States curbed risk appetite, boosting demand for safe-haven gold.
European stocks fell 0.3% at the open after Germany’s coronavirus reproduction rate rose over the weekend to 2.88 on Sunday from 1.06 on Friday, health authorities said.
The rise, mainly driven by outbreaks in meat processing plants, brings with it the possibility of renewed restrictions on activity, a move that could end any economic rebound.
U.S. stock futures were up 0.8%, continuing to shrug off a spike in infections. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.2% and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was almost flat.
In further evidence that United States was far from returning to normal, Apple said on Friday that it would temporarily shut 11 U.S. stores as coronavirus cases rose in some states.
Those concerns sent gold 0.5% higher to $1,752 per ounce, near its May peak of $1,764.8, which was its strongest since October 2012.
The pandemic is accelerating globally with the World Health Organization reporting a record increase in global coronavirus cases on Sunday.
Investors are also wary of developments in Hong Kong after details of a new security law for the territory showed Beijing will have overarching powers on its enforcement.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.7%, under performing regional markets.
Major currencies were mostly steady. The euro traded at $1.1205 , near its lowest in nearly three weeks.
The yen traded at 106.92 per dollar, not far from a one-month high of 106.58 to the dollar earlier this month.
Oil prices strengthened on tighter supplies from major producers, but concerns that the rising coronavirus cases could curb demand checked gains.
Brent crude rose 0.8% to $42.48 a barrel. U.S. crude was up 0.4% to $39.89 a barrel.