Global stock markets continue to rise as economies reopen

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TOKYO (AP) — Global stock markets rose Wednesday, extending three days of gains, as more economies reopened from shutdowns they had imposed to stem the coronavirus pandemic.

Asian indexes closed higher and European markets were up in midday trading, while Wall Street futures pointed to gains on the open in the U.S.

“The theme of reopening optimism has its stronghold on markets going into the midweek,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist for IG in Singapore.

So far, the markets’ momentum has not been derailed by the wave of protests across the U.S. that began last week in Minneapolis after a black man, George Floyd died with a Minneapolis police officer choking off his air. President Donald Trump has threatened to send troops to quell the unrest.

Investors appear to be focused instead on hopes that the worst of the pandemic downturn has passed, or will soon, as governments slowly lift the restrictions that left broad swaths of their economies at a standstill beginning in March.

France’s CAC 40 was up 1.8% to 4,947, while Germany’s DAX gained 2.2% to 12,288. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.1% to 6,290. The futures for the Dow industrials were up 0.7% and those for the S&P 500 picked up 0.4%.

Economic data in Europe was mixed, with a small increase in unemployment due both to governments’ efforts to keep workers on payrolls as well as a drop out of the labor market by discouraged jobseekers. The rate edged up to just 7.3% in April, the first full month when pandemic lockdowns hit the continent, from 7.1% in March.

The U.S. jobless rate was near 15% that month and is expected to hit almost 20% when the May figures are released on Friday. Payroll processor ADP is due to issue its May survey of hiring by private U.S. companies on Wednesday. The government’s weekly tally of applications for unemployment aid, meanwhile, comes on Thursday.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 1.3% to 22,613.76. South Korea’s Kospi surged 2.9% to 2,147.00. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.4% at 24,325.62, while the Shanghai Composite was little changed, inching up less than 0.1% to 2,923.37.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.8% to 5,941.60 despite news that the economy contracted at a 0.3% rate in January-March and is forecast to weaken much more in the current quarter, falling into recession for the first time since 1991.

India’s Sensex gained 1.7% while shares climbed nearly 3% in Singapore and almost 2% in Jakarta.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude shed 51 cents to $36.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose $1.37 to $36.81 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude for August delivery lost 50 cents to $39.07 a barrel.

The dollar inched down to 108.58 Japanese yen from 108.67 yen late Tuesday. The euro climbed to $1.1194 from $1.1171.