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Stocks rally as virus worries start to ease

Markets Report


Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

AP/PA Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Mark Schiefelbein/AP

European and Asian stocks rose yesterday as optimism grew that the global economy can recover from the impact of the coronavirus.

Crude oil rallied and treasuries fell in market moves that also reflected a growing degree of confidence that there would not be a prolonged shift lower in the world economy.

Contracts on major American stock indices pointed to a firm open after China's Hubei province reported the lowest number of new virus cases this month and suspected infections on the mainland declined. Car makers and miners led the advance in the Stoxx Europe 600 index, even as data showed a deep slump in euro area industrial output at the end of last year.

Asia saw gains for most equity benchmarks, with those in Shanghai and Hong Kong outperforming.

Oil climbed to around $51 a barrel in New York, holding the advance even after Opec slashed forecasts for global demand.

Raw materials including copper and iron ore gained, while core European bonds tracked treasuries lower, and gold and the yen slipped. New Zealand's dollar jumped the most in two months after its central bank said the impact from the virus will be short-lived and it does not project a need for rate cuts this year.

Confidence is increasing among some investors that the impact of the coronavirus outbreak will ultimately prove short-lived.

President Xi Jinping vowed China would meet its economic goals while winning the battle against the virus that has now claimed 1,115 lives, while Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday the central bank is keeping a close eye on fallout from the epidemic.

"An air of relief has permeated global markets following a sustained decline in the rate of new coronavirus cases," said Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana, an economist at Firstrand Bank.

"The absolute impact on economic growth is yet to be quantified, but markets appear more confident that its effects will be limited to the first quarter. The efforts of Chinese policymakers will prop up growth."

Meanwhile, peripheral European bonds bucked declines and the yield on 10-year Greek debt dropped below 1pc for the first time.