Stock Markets Around The World Rose On Optimism That Economic Activity May Improve In The Near Future

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5%, suggesting U.S. stocks could gain ground later in the day. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 advanced 1.2%. Asia-Pacific stock indexes also rose Tuesday. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed up 1.6%.

Global coronavirus infections topped 1.9 million, with more than 119,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The number of new cases each day appeared to level off in the U.S., and President Trump told reporters his administration is nearing completion of a plan to reopen the country “hopefully ahead of schedule.” But in Europe, France, Italy and Spain extended lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

Investors are watching for news about the length of the lockdowns to try to call when the market has reached a trough and could be set to rise again, said Georgina Taylor, a multiasset fund manager at Invesco.

“Anything that suggests that it’s not a complete catastrophe, people will take that as the bottom,” she said.

Stocks in mainland China were buoyed by better-than-feared trade data, which showed exports in March down 6.6% from a year earlier, and imports down just 0.9%. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast declines of 15.9% and 10%, respectively.

Daniel Gerard, senior multiasset strategist at State Street Global Markets, said the pandemic presents investors with an economic calamity unlike either the Great Depression or the global financial crisis, and markets are cycling between fear and relief as headlines change.

“The market may be excited today about China’s trade data being better than expected, but tomorrow it may think it is not enough,” he said.

While China’s trade figures were much better than expected, there were no serious lockdowns outside the country until mid-March, and since then orders have been cut back, said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING Bank NV in Hong Kong.

“This will heavily weigh on export and import figures for April and May, at least,” she said.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.7%, Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 3.1% higher, boosted by electronics and retail stocks, while South Korea’s Kospi Composite advanced 1.9%.

Mr. Gerard at State Street said any global economic recovery would be uneven, and while panic-selling had ceased, fundamental questions about corporate profits remain. Investors will need to distinguish temporary damage to earnings from longer-term hits, something that won’t be easy until the second half of the year, he said.

Oil prices edged up. The global benchmark Brent crude climbed 1%, trading at $32.04. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies agreed to jointly reduce production by 9.7 million barrels a day after a marathon series of talks from Thursday to Sunday.

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The rally is modest because the fall in energy demand from the economic slowdown still outweighs the production cuts made over the weekend, said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at Nordic bank SEB.

“It’s very clear that demand loss is tremendous. They [OPEC] are not cutting enough in the short term to prevent inventory build.’’

Earnings season will begin this week, with some of the largest U.S. banks reporting in the coming days. JPMorgan Chase & Co will release its financial statements Tuesday, followed by Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund will put out its world economic outlook, which will kick off a week of virtual meetings with a focus on the downturn caused by the coronavirus.



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