World shares step back

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    TOKYO/NEW YORK- Global shares stepped back on Wednesday as soft US retail sales fuelled worries that rising coronavirus cases could stifle a still fragile economic recovery, dampening the euphoria from vaccine trial breakthroughs.

    US S&P500 futures shed 0.3 percent in Asian trade on Wednesday, a day after S&P500 index lost 0.48 percent, while Europe’s Euro Stoxx 50 futures eased 0.2 percent.

    Japan’s Nikkei dropped 0.76 percent, while MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed, drawing support from better handling of the pandemic in much of the region.

    “Given the rapid gains over the last 10 days or so, a correction was inevitable,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

    Global stocks, measured by MSCI’s broadest gauge of world equities, have risen more than 11 percent so far this month.

    The retail sales report released by the US Commerce Department showed spending decelerating as the holiday shopping season approaches, amid a lack of fresh fiscal relief from Washington.

    A skittish mood also swept investors as several US states began restricting gatherings and mandating face-coverings after more than 70,000 Americans were hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19 as of Monday, according to a Reuters tally of public health figures.

    The surge in new coronavirus cases comes as investors have hailed two promising vaccine trial results published earlier this month.