Shares rebound on signs of progress in battling virus

BANGKOK (AP) — World shares rose Monday as investors gleaned hope from signs that the battle against the coronavirus pandemic may be making some progress in some hard-hit areas.

Benchmarks were up about 3% in Paris and Frankfurt and Tokyo jumped more than 4%.

Oil prices fell back after reports said a meeting between OPEC and Russia reportedly has been delayed until April 9.

The number of people dying appears to be slowing in New York City, Spain and Italy, news that was cautiously welcomed by leaders. But they noted that any gains could easily be reversed if people did not continue to adhere to strict lockdowns. Japan was preparing to ramp up its own precautions, reacting to worries that the virus is spreading more rapidly than earlier thought.

“Hundreds of people are passing away each day from the pandemic, but less so than previous days, giving markets hope that the lockdown measures are finally starting to prove effective,” Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.

“Like the rest of the world, financial markets are searching for any slivers of hope,” he said.

Germany’s DAX added 3.5% to 9,858.49 and the CAC 40 in Paris picked up 2.9% to 4,275.61. Britain’s FTSE 100 rose 1.7% to 5,507.61. The future contract for the S&P 500 rose 3.5% to 2,570.40 and the future for the Dow industrials also was up 3.5%, at 21,684.00.

Monday’s gains followed another Friday session of losses after the U.S. said employers cut 701,000 more jobs than they added last month, the first drop in nearly a decade. Investors fled the market ahead of the weekend.

The Nikkei 225 index surged 4.2% to 18,576.30 on reports Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, plans to announce a state of emergency on Tuesday, seeking to further curb public activity and contain the outbreak.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 2.2% to 23,749.12. South Korea’s Kospi added 3.9% to 1,791.58, while the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney advanced 4.3% to 5,286.80. Shares also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Shanghai’s market was closed for a public holiday.

New York’s first reaction to Friday’s appalling U.S. jobs report was to take it in stride. But Wall Street slid throughout the day as investors braced for more bad news. The S&P 500 lost 1.5% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 1.7%.

The losses accelerated after New York’s governor announced the biggest daily jump yet for deaths caused by the coronavirus in the country’s hardest-hit state.

The S&P 500 is down 26.5% since its record set in February, reflecting the growing assumption that the economy is sliding into a sudden, extremely sharp recession.

Traders are bracing for future updates including Thursday’s weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits, which has been the closest thing to a real-time measure of how ferociously layoffs have swept the country. Companies will also soon begin reporting their profits for the first three months of the year, with reporting season beginning in earnest in two weeks.

Still, the panic selling that dominated the first few weeks of the sell-off has eased a bit since Washington unleashed massive amounts of aid to help markets and the economy. The Federal Reserve has promised to buy as many Treasury securities as it takes to keep lending markets running smoothly, and Congress approved a $2.2 trillion rescue plan for the economy.

Analysts say that only a peak in the number of new coronavirus cases will bring some clarity on how deep and protracted the economic downturn will be.

The United States has more than 377,000 confirmed cases of the virus, leading the worldwide tally of more than 1.27 million compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

More than 69,000 people have died, but over 260,000 have recovered.

Energy markets have recovered somewhat on expectations that Saudi Arabia and Russia might tone down a price war launched at a time when the world is awash in oil as demand collapses. Reports that a meeting planned for Monday has been pushed back to Thursday cast a shadow over Monday trading.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 70 cents to $27.64 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Friday, it climbed 11.9% to $28.34 per barrel, adding on to its nearly 25% surge the day before.

Brent crude, the international standard, gave up 96 cents to $33.15 per barrel. It rose $4.17 on Friday to $34.11 a barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar rose to 109.17 Japanese yen from 108.48 yen on Friday. The euro edged higher, to $1.0791 from $1.0812.