Stock Markets Drift Lower in a Bad Sign for Wall Street

European stocks open lower despite a strong day in Asia.

Major European markets opened lower on Monday despite a moderately strong day in Asia and a booming Friday on Wall Street.

Stocks in Britain, France and Germany were down, though by less than 1 percent, in morning trading. The sluggish performance came after markets in Japan and Taiwan rose more than 1 percent, leading a rally in the Asia-Pacific region. Futures markets signaled that Wall Street would open slightly lower.

Further demonstrating investor indecision, prices for U.S. Treasury bonds were mixed during early trading.

Stocks got a boost on Friday after U.S. jobs figures came in much stronger than expected. But investor worries seemed to return on Monday. Global stocks have risen strongly in recent days on government stimulus efforts and signs of recovery in some of the places hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. Some investors now wonder how long governments will be willing to give the global economy a push, and how long it will take for the world’s growth engines to come back to full speed.

As lockdowns complicated closing deals, the real estate industry lobbied the Treasury Department to get extensions on those dates. But once the relief was granted, deals began to fall apart.

Mortgage rates may be appealingly low, but people shopping for a new home this spring face a challenging market.

Demand, which was pent up during coronavirus stay-at-home orders, and a dearth of homes for sale are keeping prices high and setting off bidding wars in some areas as states continue to reopen for business. Some buyers may also find it tougher to qualify for mortgages, as lenders require higher credit scores and bigger down payments in response to higher unemployment and economic uncertainty in the pandemic.

Nationally, the median price for a home, excluding new construction, was about $287,000 in April, up more than 7 percent from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors reported.

Now, with many states lifting restrictions on home tours, the housing market is reawakening. Shoppers are feeling more comfortable visiting properties: About two-thirds of people who attended an open house within the past year said they would attend an open house now “without hesitation,” a separate survey from the Realtors association found.

But some sellers remain cautious. They want to show homes by appointment only, and they want offers from serious buyers who have been preapproved for financing, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the association. “They don’t want casual shoppers,” he said.

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