Stocks rise on hopes for coronavirus progress

Stocks rise on hopes for coronavirus progress

Stocks are rising at the opening of trading on Wall Street Friday as investors rally around signs that more governments are planning phased re-openings of their economies.

News that China’s economy suffered the worst downturn since 1979 last quarter did little to depress traders’ optimism after the White House issued guidelines for a phased reopening of businesses, schools and other institutions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 300 points. The S&P 500 rose 1.5% and could close out its first back-to-back weekly gain since the market began to sell off in February on worries about the virus. Asian and European indexes also rose.

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Wall Street sign in front of New York Stock Exchange.

Some optimistic investors are focusing on the massive aid for the economy promised by the Federal Reserve and the U.S government. They also point to recent signs that the outbreak may be leveling off in some of the world’s hardest-hit areas.

China’s economy contracted 6.8% in the last quarter from a year earlier as the country battled the coronavirus.

“The March data add to broader signs that China’s economy is past the worst. But the recovery will probably continue to underwhelm,” analyst Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary. He added that after an initial bounce as factories reopened, “the recovery in activity has since slowed to a crawl.”

Treasury yields remain extremely low, though, reflecting pessimism over the economic outlook.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was at 0.64% after falling to 0.60% on Thursday. Yields fall when bond prices rise, and investors tend to bid up Treasurys when they’re worried about the economy.

In European trading, the CAC 40 in Paris jumped 4.2% to 4,532 while Germany’s DAX climbed 4% to 10,717. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 3.5% to 5,822.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 3.2% to 19,897.26 as the country awaited an announcement by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on expanding a national emergency to combat the coronavirus to the entire nation. He earlier only included Tokyo and several other worst affected areas.

Infections have continued to climb, surging past 10,000 if the number sickened on a cruise ship off the coast in February are included, and worries are growing that the nation’s health systems won’t be able to cope.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 1.6% to 24,380.00. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.7% to 2,838.49, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 1.3% to 5,487.50.


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