Wall Street added to record highs and Germany’s blue-chip stocks index reached new heights on Friday as investors shrugged off concerns about Covid’s spreading Delta variant and US inflation pressures. A jump in wholesale prices added to expectations the Federal Reserve will shift course and pull back on its stimulus efforts, starting with a slowdown in the pace of massive bond buying. “For now, markets appear… comfortable with that idea,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. “As long as the discussion doesn’t move onto the more sensitive topic of rate rises, then the current trend of… (stock market) highs looks set to continue.” The Dow and S&P 500 were on track for a fourth consecutive record as Wall Street opened on Friday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was flat. European markets were up in afternoon trade, with Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index breaching the 16,000-point barrier for the first time soon after opening, but it was back under that level in afternoon trading. The first signal of a move to taper huge US stimulus could come as soon as this month when Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell is due address the annual central banking conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The worry is that tapering, along with rises to interest rates to contain inflation as economies reopen from lockdowns, could hamper the recovery. Data on Thursday showed US producer prices rose more than twice as much as forecast in July from a month earlier, while the annual rate hit a record. The producer price report came on the heels of Wednesday’s consumer price index, which showed inflation moderating in July. Traders also seem unmoved by the fast-spreading Delta virus variant, which is forcing governments to reimpose containment measures. “Even this morning it feels like there should be more of a negative disposition, but there isn’t,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare. The market “continues to look on the bright side it seems,” O’Hare said. He said markets were buoyed by the US approval of a booster shot of the Covid vaccine for people with weakened immune systems and a good earnings report at Disney. In Asia, however, stock markets closed lower following a broadly positive week as the Chinese government tightens its grip on the world’s second-biggest economy. “Global investors are assessing the implications of the spread of the Delta virus, the possible tapering by the Fed, and China’s clampdown,” said Geir Lode, of Federated Hermes. “With equity markets almost doubling since the start of the pandemic and a bull market lasting over a decade, investors are questioning how far the bull market can rally.” Elsewhere, crude prices extended their recent sell-off fuelled by concerns that the Delta mutation would hurt demand, with the International Energy Agency warning as much in a report on Thursday. “The oil market will likely continue to maintain a nervous watch, especially for a deterioration in China and the US,” said Vandana Hari, of energy consultant Vanda Insights.