Global Stock Markets Close Out April Near Record Highs

Global stock markets are near record highs on the last trading day of April, pushed higher by strong U.S. economic data and corporate earnings.

Stock markets around the world are on course for their best month in nine as the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to support the economy and keep interest rates near zero this year fuel investors’ appetite for stocks.

MSCI's broadest gauge of world stocks covering 50 markets dipped 0.1% in early trading Friday (April 30) but remained close to a record touched on April 29, up 5% for the entire month.

In Europe, euro Stoxx were steady and Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.2%. U.S. stock futures were down 0.3% after the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high on April 29.

Data this past week showed U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fueled by massive government aid to households and businesses. That came along with the U.S. Federal Reserve's reassurance this week that it was not time yet to begin discussing any changes to its easy monetary policy.

For both the MSCI world index and the S&P 500, analysts are forecasting earnings in the next 12 months to recover to above pre-pandemic levels. Preliminary euro zone gross domestic product (GDP) data, meanwhile, is expected to show a drop of 2% in the first quarter, which would mean a fall into a technical recession.

France, the euro zone's second-biggest economy, saw stronger than expected growth in the first quarter, although GDP in the largest economy, Germany, fell more than expected on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Regardless, the Euro currency extended its bull run to a two-month high of $1.2150 U.S. on April 29. With a 3.2% gain in April, the currency is on course for its biggest monthly rise in nine months.

In Asia, MSCI's ex-Japan index lost 0.9% on Friday (April 30), following a softer-than-expected survey of China's manufacturing sector. Chinese technology shares listed in Hong Kong also buckled as Beijing ordered internet platforms to strengthen their compliance with regulators.

Mainland Chinese shares lost 0.8% while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.8% ahead of a long weekend. Both markets will be closed through Wednesday due to local holidays.

Oil prices took a breather after hitting six-week highs on strong U.S. economic data, on concerns about wider lockdowns in India and Brazil. Brent crude oil slipped 0.54% to $68.19 U.S. per barrel, after hitting a high of $68.95 U.S. on April 29, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 0.78% to $64.50 U.S. per barrel.