Stock markets are paring gains on Tuesday, even following some more strong earnings from big US tech firms, with plenty more to come.

Investors are clearly still impressed with what they're seeing from earnings season and that has offset nerves coming into the period around the near-term risks to growth. While they may come back to the fore later in the year and limit any upside that we see in the interim, what we've heard to this point has come as a relief.

But risks haven't gone anywhere and we're continuing to see markets price in higher US rates over the next year which is resulting in a steepening of the yield curve and potentially making investors a little nervous.

Of course, expectations may change dramatically over the coming months if downside economic risks materialise. We're already seeing rate expectations paring back in the UK as growth concerns rise. Inflation isn't going anywhere for the next year though which will keep pressure on central banks to do more, especially if they continue to be generous with the term transitory, as they have increasingly become.

The UK budget was heavy on content but as is so often the case, given what's leaked in the days leading up to it, light on surprises. While pubs are seeing share prices buoyed by tax changes, the broader effect is minimal. The FTSE 250 is up marginally, FTSE 100 a little lower and the pound relatively unchanged compared to before the event.

Oil slips after API inventory report

The oil price rally has been losing momentum recently after making large gains over the last couple of months and Tuesday's API inventory data may have been the catalyst for the start of the correction. Needless to say, crude oil has looked like an overcrowded trade over the last couple of weeks and has been running on fumes.

After API reported a surprisingly large build on Tuesday, WTI and Brent both fell and that has continued today, with prices down more than 1%. The EIA report piled further pressure on after reporting an even larger build but quickly recovered. Price may remain volatile for the rest of the session.

Any correction will likely be limited though by the tight energy markets we're seeing and will continue to see over the coming months. The winter months may further squeeze supplies and as we've seen this past week, colder weather warnings will likely see prices spiking which will support prices in the near term.

Gold under pressure as US yield curve steepens

Gold continues to trade below $1,800 and the steeping yield curve appears to be dragging on the yellow metal as markets price in more action from central banks to address the "transitory" inflation they're apparently not concerned about. The price movements continue to be choppy as traders wrestle with inflationary pressures, central bank expectations and a softer dollar.

The yellow metal finds itself caught between support around $1,780 - where a rising trendline over the last few weeks intersects a recent support zone - and $1,800-1,810. That range is narrowing which suggests a breakout isn't far away, at which point we'll have a better idea of the direction of travel.

Bitcoin continues to see profit-taking, falling more than 10%

Bitcoin prices initially held up quite well following the launch of the ProShares ETF last week, despite fears that after such a long build-up we may see some classic buy the rumour, sell the fact price action. It even hit record highs after the launch. As it turns out, rather than spurring a new wave of bullishness and one of those wild surges associated with the cryptocurrency, the profit-taking was merely delayed.

And now it's broken back below $60,000 which begs the question, just how big a correction are we facing? While bitcoin has a history of epic price surges, the corrections can be quite tasty as well. We've seen some support around $58,500 which was notable resistance on the way up, while $56,500 and $53,500 could offer further support below.

This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities.

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