European Shares Seen Lower As US Tops World In Virus Cases

European stocks may open lower on Friday as the number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped a half-million and deaths climbed past 24,000. The United States overtook China and Italy to become the epicenter of the outbreak.

As the nationwide lockdown shows the first small signs of payoff, Italian
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he wants a “strong and sufficient” financial response that deploys “innovative financial instruments truly adapted to a war.

Spain’s coronavirus toll surged above 4,000 on Thursday but the increase in both fatalities and infections slowed.

In Britain, the National Health Service said London’s hospitals are facing a “continuous tsunami” of seriously ill COVID-19 patients, despite a lockdown imposed this week.

Globally, there are over 5.3 lakh confirmed cases and 24,081 deaths from the virus outbreak, fueling fears of a long recession.

Asian stocks gave up some early gains to turn mixed and the dollar fell sharply against its major peers, while oil prices rebounded after falling sharply overnight on concerns about the outlook for energy demand and amid reports that the U.S. Department of Energy is suspending its plans to buy crude for the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

G20 leaders pledged to inject over $5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the coronavirus and “do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic.”

In economic releases, China’s industrial profits plunged at the start of the year as coronavirus epidemic weighed heavily on economic activity, data published by the National Bureau of Statistics showed. Industrial profits declined sharply by 38.3 percent during January to February period from the same period last year.

Consumer confidence survey data from France and house price figures from the U.K. are due later in the session, headlining a light day for the European economic news.

Across the Atlantic, reports on personal income and spending and consumer sentiment are due to be released, but traders will keep an eye on developments on Capitol Hill, where the House will be seeking to pass the stimulus bill without forcing all members to return to Washington.

Overnight, U.S. stocks extended gains for a third day running as the Senate finally voted to approve a massive $2 trillion stimulus package and the Fed said it is working hard to support the economy in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Investors shrugged off a report showing that U.S. jobless claims surged by the most on record in the last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average spiked 6.4 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied 5.6 percent and the S&P 500 climbed 6.2 percent.

European markets rose sharply on Thursday as the Bank of England vowed more support for the economy and EU leaders gave eurozone finance ministers a fortnight to come up with a stronger response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The pan European Stoxx 600 rose 2.6 percent. The German DAX gained 1.3 percent, France’s CAC 40 index jumped 2.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 2.2 percent.

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