Global Markets Gain as More Economies Prepare to Reopen

Investors also are looking ahead to meetings of U.S. and European central banks this week for signs of more measures to reverse the deepest global slump since the 1930s

In this April 27, 2020, file photo, currency traders watch monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea.
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

Global stock prices gained Monday after Japan’s central bank boosted support for financial markets as more governments prepared to reopen economies that were shut down to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Tokyo's benchmark surged 2.7% and European markets opened higher. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney also gained.

Investors are looking ahead to meetings of U.S. and European central bankers this week for additional measures to reverse the deepest global slump since the 1930s. Evidence is mounting that the damage is even worse than expected.

The Bank of Japan said it will inject money into the financial system by purchasing an additional 15 trillion yen ($140 billion) of commercial paper and bank loans. The bank also scrapped its ceiling on purchases of government debt.

Investors appear to be looking past the outbreak to figure out which companies can survive and prosper after conditions improve.

China, where the pandemic began in December, has reopened factories and other businesses after numbers of new cases declined. Spain plans to start easing restrictions Sunday and Italy on May 4. France will announce its plans next month.

Hopes for a return to normal “should see markets such as equities outperform this week," said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.

In London, the FTSE 100 opened up 1.4% at 5,831.26 and Germany's DAX gained 2.1% to 10,547.26. The CAC 40 in France added 1.6% to 4,464.07.

On Wall Street, the futures for the benchmark S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 0.9%.

On Friday, the S&P 500 Index gained 1.4% and the Dow rose 1.1%. The S&P 500 is down 16.2% from its February record but has cut its losses by half.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 2,815.49 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose to 19,783.22. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1.9% to 24,280.14.

In Seoul, the Kospi was 1.8% to 1,922.77. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 1.5% to 5,321.40 and India’s Sensex advanced 1.4% to 31,786.49. Singapore advanced 1.4% and Bangkok gained 0.3%.

Also Monday, China’s government reported profits at major industrial companies fell 34.9% in March from a year earlier. That was an improvement over the 38.3% decline in January and February, but analysts said a full recovery is a long way off.

This week’s other potentially market-moving events include data from the United States, China, Japan, Germany and France on inflation, trade, industrial activity and retail spending.

Leaders of the U.S. Federal Reserve are likely to announce they will wait to see the impact of earlier stimulus before taking more action, Hayaki Narita of Mizuho Bank said in a report. The European Central Bank “will likely keep its options for easing open.”

President Donald Trump, campaigning for re-election, is pressing U.S. state governors to ease anti-disease controls as early as possible.

Some states are lifting shutdown orders despite warnings that could cause a surge in infections. Others including Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York say they want a bigger decline in new cases before rolling back curbs.

On Friday, Trump signed legislation to provide an additional $500 billion in virus aid, including loans to small businesses. Government data showed an unexpectedly sharp 14.4% drop in U.S. durable goods orders.

“Investors have written off 2020 as a shocker and are looking more intently into the landscape in 2021,” said Chris Weston of Pepperstone in a report.

They are due to get more indicators how that future might develop when companies including Exxon, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and McDonald’s start reporting quarterly results this week.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery lost $2.20 cents to $14.74 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 2.7% on Friday to settle at $16.94. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 71 cents to $24.10 per barrel in London. It added 0.5% the previous session to $21.44 per barrel.

One casualty of the plunge in oil prices, Houston, Texas-based contract driller Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., filed for bankruptcy Sunday with debts of $2.6 billion. It said conditions had deteriorated sharply with the pandemic and the recent price war between Russia and other producers.

Like many U.S. oil producers, Diamond Offshore is at a competitive disadvantage when oil prices decline, in its case because of the relatively high cost of pumping oil from deepwater drilling platforms.

The dollar declined to 107.17 yen from Friday’s 107.49 yen. The euro gained to $1.0844 from $1.0823.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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