Stocks surge, safe-havens fall as confidence grows in China's virus efforts


  • Markets
  • Wednesday, 05 Feb 2020

A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 4, 2020. - Reuters

NEW YORK: The dollar strengthened and global equity markets surged on Tuesday, with Wall Street's Nasdaq index hitting a record high, as investors took heart from China's efforts to minimize the economic impact from the coronavirus epidemic.

The price of gold and government debt, traditional safe havens, slid as investors gained confidence that China will do whatever it can to alleviate the economic toll from an outbreak that has killed more than 420 people and infected more than 20,000.

The People's Bank of China pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system this week, and policymakers are readying further measures to support the economy, policy sources told Reuters. China's central bank said the measures it has taken this week showed its determination to stabilize financial market expectations and restore market confidence.

Chinese stocks overnight reversed some of Monday's plunge while European equities posted their best single-day gain since Oct. 11, when a breakthrough was reached on Brexit talks. Copper prices jumped after China moved to protect its economy.

MSCI's gauge of global equity performance <.MIWD00000PUS> rose 1.48%, its biggest one-day gain since Oct. 8 as a rally on Wall Street lifted the index, which is 55% weighted to U.S. stocks.

London's heavyweight FTSE <.FTSE> rose 1.55% on gains in mining stocks and a weak pound due to renewed worries about Britain's post-Brexit trade relations with the European Union.

Chinese stocks rebounded in choppy trade a day after anxiety over the coronavirus erased $400 billion in value from Shanghai's benchmark index when the market reopened following an extended Lunar New Year holiday.

The Shanghai Composite <.SSEC> closed up 1.3%, while the blue-chip CSI300 <.CSI300> rebounded 2.6% after a near 8% slide on Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng <.HSI> advanced 1.2%.

From a global perspective, the coronavirus outbreak is seen as a temporary setback, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management.

"Worried investors drew pretty scary trendlines and that's probably not the case," Ablin said. "China is certainly taking the coronavirus seriously."

The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> rose 1.64% and emerging market stocks rose 2.40%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 407.82 points, or 1.44%, to 28,807.63. The S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 48.67 points, or 1.50%, to 3,297.59 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 194.57 points, or 2.1%, to 9,467.97.

Alphabet Inc dropped 2.5% after the company reported results late Monday, as Google's advertising business and new data about YouTube and Google Cloud broadly disappointed.

Other technology stocks, however, rallied. Apple Inc shares rose 3.3% and Microsoft Corp gained 3.29%, which helped the technology <.SPLRCT> index climb 2.6%.

The safe-haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc fell against the dollar for a second straight session.

The dollar index <.DXY> rose 0.15%, with the euro down 0.14% to $1.1042. The yen weakened 0.74% versus the greenback at 109.50 per dollar.

China's yuan gained 0.3% in international markets to 6.9935 yuan per dollar , in line with rebounds in Chinese shares and holding above its one-month low of 7.0230 per dollar hit in European trade on Monday.

Oil prices edged lower as fears that energy demand would take a long-term hit from the coronavirus outbreak offset prospects for more cuts in crude production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

Brent crude fell 49 cents to settle at $53.96 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled down 50 cents at $49.61, the first settlement below $50 since January 2019.

U.S. gold futures settled down 1.7% at $1,555.50 an ounce.

Copper , which is used as a gauge of global economic health, in particular China's, ended the session 1.7% higher at $5,618 a tonne. - Reuters

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