Here are the top five things you need to know in financial markets on Monday, February 19:
1. Global Stocks Maintain Rally In Holiday-Thinned Trade
Global stock markets kicked off the new week with more gains, as appetite for equities remained strong following a recent shakeout that was sparked by fears of creeping inflation and higher borrowing costs.
Asian markets closed mostly higher, with a near 2% rise for the Nikkei 225 index and an almost 1% jump for South Korea's Kospi, though many markets in the region remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
In Europe, shares rose for a fourth straight session, as strength seen in markets overseas boosted sentiment.
Meanwhile, U.S. stock futures edged up, but traders were steering away from big bets as they got the session off for Presidents Day.
The Dow and S&P 500 rose 4.3% each last week, posting their best weekly performances since 2016 and 2013, respectively. The Nasdaq jumped 5.3%, meanwhile, notching its biggest one-week gain since 2011.
2. Dollar Finds Footing Above Three-Year Lows
The U.S. dollar found some traction following last week's steep fall and managed to hold above a three-year low against a basket of currencies.
The dollar index, which gauges the U.S. currency against a basket of six major rivals, was a shade higher at around 89.10, after enjoying a modest bounce on Friday following its descent to 88.15, its lowest since December 2014.
The U.S. currency has been weighed down by a variety of factors this year, including concerns that Washington might pursue a weak dollar strategy and the perceived erosion of its yield advantage as other countries start to scale back easy monetary policy.
The greenback has also been hit by concerns that large corporate tax cuts and increased government spending will negatively impact the U.S. fiscal deficit, which is projected to balloon to near $1 trillion in 2019.
Meanwhile, the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.87%. The U.S. cash bond market is shut on Monday for a holiday.
Global financial markets will focus on minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting in the week ahead, with hopes the central bank will give more hints on the pace of future rate hikes this year.
3. Bitcoin Climbs Above $11,000-Level
Bitcoin prices climbed back above the $11,000-mark for the first time in four weeks, as the digital currency continued to recover from heavy selloffs earlier this month.
Bitcoin was last up around 7% at $10,977, after hitting its highest level since January 30 at $11,250 on Sunday. Prices have bounced back sharply after falling to a four-month low of around $6,000 on February 6.
Other major cryptocurrencies also traded higher, with Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency by market cap, climbing around 4% to $944.70.
The third largest cryptocurrency Ripple gained around 8.5% to trade at $1.1308.
Meanwhile, Litecoin rallied 5% to $223.10.
4. Oil Prices Hit Highest Level In Two Weeks
Oil futures climbed to their highest level in nearly two weeks, with the commodity picking up where it left off last week as investors weighed OPEC's ongoing efforts to rid the market of excess supplies against indications of rising U.S. production.
WTI crude rose roughly 4.2% last week, while Brent added about 3.3%. The gains for both benchmarks came after back-to-back weekly declines.
5. European Ministers To Choose New ECB Deputy
Euro zone finance ministers are set to hold important discussions in Brussels, setting the tone for a significant change within the European Central Bank (ECB).
The ministers will discuss who should become the next vice president of the ECB with two candidates in the running for the role. This is one of four changes in the executive board of the ECB, which has only six members, taking place before the end of next year.
The two leading candidates to replace Vitor Constancio as ECB vice president are Luis de Guindos, Spain's Economy Minister, and Philip Lane, the governor of Ireland's central bank.