Super-charged stocks race toward second weekly gain

FILE - This June 16, 2015 file photo shows developer Donald Trump as he delivers remarks during his announcement that he will be a Republican candidate for president, in New York. Univision is dropping the Miss USA pageant and says it will cut all business ties with Donald Trump in a spiraling controversy over comments the Republican presidential hopeful made recently about Mexican immigrants. The company said Thursday, June 25, it would pull the plug on its Spanish-language coverage of the pageant on July 12 by its UniMas network. It also has severed its business relationship with the Miss Universe Organization, which produces the Miss USA pageant, due to what it called "insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants" by Trump, a part owner of the organization. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

LONDON (Reuters) – World stock markets made a super-charged sprint towards a second straight week of gains on Friday after President Donald Trump laid out plans to gradually reopen the coronavirus-hit U.S. economy following similar moves elsewhere.

The bulls were back in business. Additional reports that patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms had responded positively to a drug made by U.S. company Gilead Sciences (GILD.O) had helped Tokyo and Seoul surge 3% as Asia .MIAPJ0000PUS took a widely-expected slump in Chinese GDP data in its stride.

Europe’s main markets .FTSE.GDAXI and Wall Street futures made 3% gains in early European trading too, putting the pan-regional STOXX 600 up almost 8% in the last two weeks and MSCI’s 49-country world index .MIWD00000PUS. nearly 11%.

“The market continues to look through terrible data… on anticipation of economies reopening,” said Steen Jakobsen, Chief Investment Officer at Saxo Bank. “And hopes that a new drug treatment will help lift longer term uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The data from China had shown the world’s second-largest economy shrank for the first time since at least 1992 because of the coronavirus woes.

Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 6.8% in the quarter year-on-year, slightly more than expected, and 9.8% from the previous quarter.

Retail sales also fell more than expected in March, but industrial output dipped only slightly, suggesting its manufacturing sector at least is recovering more quickly.

Back in Europe, Italian bond markets, which have been under pressure as the country’s virus difficulties push its debt-to-GDP ratio towards 150%, also rallied as France expressed support for joint euro zone debt issuance.

European countries have “no choice” but to set up a fund that “could issue common debt with a common guarantee”, French President Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times on Thursday. Failure to do so would lead to populists winning elections in Italy, Spain, and possibly France, he also warned.

Yields on ultra-safe 10-year U.S. Treasuries US10YT=RR and German Bunds rose slightly, while Treasury futures TYc1 and the dollar firmed against the yen JPY=EBS, in another tentative sign of investor optimism.

Spot gold XAU= fell 1.5% to $1,692 per ounce too and with investors looking to take on more risk industrial metal copper jumped 4% on track for its best week since February 2019.

No such luck for battered oil markets however. U.S. crude futures CLc1 slumped 8% to an 18-year low after OPEC had lowered of its global demand forecast on Thursday, and Brent crude LCOc1 slipped back under $28 a barrel having been up nearly 3% at one point.

OPEC now sees a contraction of global demand of 6.9 million barrels per day (bpd) this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Downward risks remain significant, suggesting the possibility of further adjustments, especially in the second quarter,” OPEC said of the demand forecast.

Additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; Editing by Peter Graff

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