Wall Street equities rose overnight despite the shutdown in New York was extended until May 15. Trump laid out a three-stage process for ending lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus, adding that a prolonged lockdown risked inflicting a serious toll on public health. Meanwhile, another 5.2 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.
However, total claims filed in the week ended April 11 were down from the 6.6 million filed the prior week. As a result, Dow Jones rose 0.14%, the S&P 500 gained 0.58%, and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.66%. Amazon.com Inc and Netflix Inc surged to record highs due to a surge in demand for online streaming services and home delivery of goods.
In Asia, stocks added to gains even as China reported its first contraction since 1992. China’s gross domestic product in the first quarter shrank by 6.8% year-on-year versus -6.5% expected. Industrial production fell 1.1% year-on-year in March, less than the predicted 7.3%. China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.66%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 3.15%, South Korea’s Kospi rallied by 3.09%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up by 1.56%.
European markets opened higher as investors shrugged off dismal economic data out of China and focused on plans for re-opening major economies. The Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed nearly 2.5%. Markets were also inspired by reports that a Chicago hospital treating coronavirus patients with Remdesivir in a trial were recovering rapidly from severe symptoms.
Meanwhile, the greenback is stable against major currencies, struggling to extend gains after a two-day rally. Dollar demand has waned somewhat amid a better risk sentiment. Still, traders continue to express a cautious tone amid the lingering recession worries, suggesting the US currency will remain afloat, at least in the medium term. EURUSD extended losses to the 1.0816 area yesterday and remains on the defensive on Friday. As a result, traders’ focus has shifted to the 1.08 support area, a break below which will open the way toward 1.0770.