Global stocks rise after OPEC agreement, US data

A man wearing a protective mask in the Shanghai Stock Exchange building in Shanghai, China, February 28 2020. Picture: REUTERS/ALY SONG

BEIJING (AP) — Global markets and U.S. futures rose Friday after American economic data and a pact by oil producers to raise output helped to allay concern about Pfizer’s reduction of the number of doses of coronavirus vaccine it might ship this year.

Benchmarks in London, Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong advanced while Tokyo declined.

U.S. stock futures rose, rebounding from a 0.1% decline in Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index on Thursday after Pfizer Inc. reduced the number of vaccine doses it might ship this year by half to 50 million.

Investors were encouraged after fewer Americans than expected applied for jobless benefits last week and service industries grew in November, though more slowly. They also were optimistic about possible progress toward a new U.S. economic aid plan.

“Expectations of a holiday pandemic relief bill are offsetting the immediate pain the coronavirus is having on the economy,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report. “Expectations are high for the virus lockdowns to improve in January as vaccines are produced and distributed.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.6% to 6,531.46 and the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.5% to 5,603.50. The DAX in Frankfurt was down less than 0.1% at 13,251.20.

On Wall Street, the futures for the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.4%.

On Thursday, the Dow gained 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite added 0.2%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index added less than 0.1% to 3,444.58 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.2% to 26,751.14. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.4% to 26,835.92.

The Kospi in Seoul gained 1.3% to 2,731.45 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was 0.3% higher at 6,634.10. India’s Sensex rose 0.6% to 44,887.17.

New Zealand and Jakarta retreated while Singapore and Bangkok gained.

Investors hope one or more coronavirus vaccines might be available next year despite the challenges of making and distributing billions of doses that must be kept frozen.

Pfizer, which received British approval for emergency use of its vaccine, told The Wall Street Journal that testing and setting up a supply chain took longer than expected.

Also Thursday, U.S. health authorities reported a one-day record of 3,157 virus deaths.

“Before we can make new gains, there is the usual sentiment tug of war between medium-term optimism and near-term COVID-19 despair,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report.

U.S. government data showed 712,000 people applied for jobless benefits last week, lower than the 775,000 expected.

Also Thursday, the Institute for Supply Management’s index of services activity declined to 55.9 from October’s 56.6. Readings above 50 represent expansion in industries such as restaurants and bars, retail stores and delivery companies.

Investors have been encouraged by signs Democrats and Republicans in Washington may get past their bitter partisanship to agree on an economic aid package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke Thursday after Pelosi signaled a willingness to make concessions. President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress on Wednesday to pass a relief bill now, with more aid to come next year.

Oil prices edged higher after OPEC and allied countries including Russia agreed Thursday to increase oil production by 500,000 barrels per day starting from January. They slashed output earlier to shore up prices as curbs on business depressed demand.

Benchmark U.S. crude gained 99 cents to $46.63 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 36 cents on Thursday to $45.64 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up $1.11 at $49.82 per barrel in London. It added 46 cents the previous session to $48.71 a barrel.

The dollar rose to 104.02 yen from Thursday’s 103.97 yen. The euro rose to $1.2168 from $1.2143.