European Shares Set To Follow Asian Peers Higher

European stocks may open higher on Friday as investors react to U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of new guidelines to states aimed at easing social distancing restrictions and reopening parts of the country.

“We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” Trump said at the coronavirus task force press briefing Thursday as the White House outlined a three-phase approach to gradually bring back parts of public life.

Investors also cheered media reports suggesting that Covid-19 patients who are getting experimental drug called remdesivir have been recovering quickly.

Asian markets gained ground even as a spate of Chinese data underscored a deeper downturn.

China’s first quarter GDP shrank 6.8 percent in 2020 as compared to a year ago, marking the first quarterly decline since 1992, as the world’s second largest economy took a huge hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

Fixed asset investment in the first quarter tumbled an annual 16.1 percent and industrial production dipped 1.1 percent year-on-year in March, while retail sales plunged 15.8 percent in the month, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

As the global coronavirus death toll passed 140,000, with nearly two thirds of all fatalities in Europe, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries have called for a thorough review and reform of the World Health Organization (WHO) and agreed to ensure a coordinated global approach to the coronavirus pandemic, the White House said after a video conference call between the leaders.

Brent crude futures jumped about 2 percent in Asian trading while U.S. crude futures were moving lower. Gold prices eased on a firmer dollar.

U.S. stocks rose overnight even as reports showed another spike in the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits and a slump in new-home construction.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 1.7 percent.

Amazon and Netflix jumped to new record closing highs on expectations they will benefit the most from the coronavirus shutdown.

European markets ended mostly higher on Thursday, but off their day’s highs as some European countries announced plans to reopen their economies hammered by the coronavirus.

The pan European Stoxx 600 advanced 0.6 percent. The German DAX edged up 0.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 0.6 percent, while France’s CAC 40 index slipped 0.1 percent.

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