U.S. stocks edged higher as investors gave a tepid vote of confidence to the battery of economic and financial measures from global policy makers aimed at easing the market turmoil. Oil soared and the dollar extended its rally.
The Nasdaq Composite Index led gains as bargain hunters snapped up tech shares, with Tesla Inc., Twitter Inc. and Netflix Inc. all up at least 5 per cent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed back above 20,000. Crude surged the most on record as Middle East producers began to show signs of strain and President Donald Trump said he would get involved in the oil price standoff at the “appropriate time.”
“Investors are digesting the coming fiscal tsunami and the implication of central banks pulling out all the stops,” said Ed Campbell, a portfolio manager and managing director at QMA. “We’re seeing some stabilization today. I would definitely hesitate to call a bottom.”
Treasury yields dipped. Stocks gained in Europe after falling across most of Asia. Sovereign bonds soared in Italy, Spain and Portugal after the region’s central bank boosted its efforts to stabilize the economy and capital markets.
The yen, so often a haven amid market stress, slumped in a sign of the extraordinary demand for the greenback, which strengthened for an eighth day to its highest in at least 15 years. WTI oil jumped as much as 36 per cent after a plunge that had taken it to almost US$20 a barrel on Wednesday.
Investors took a break from what has been a wave of selling to evaluate the unprecedented policy actions taken to fight the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump sought to reassure skeptical Republicans that he’s aiming to help workers through the crisis, not necessarily corporations, a priority made all the more urgent after data showed U.S. jobless claims came in higher than expected.
The latest efforts to mitigate the damage include the Bank of England cutting its bank rate and increasing its bond buying program, the European Central Bank launching a 750 billion euro (US$815 billion) debt-buying plan, and the Federal Reserve’s support for money-market mutual funds. South Africa cut interest rates and Germany may authorize emergency debt issuance.
But looming over everything is the question of how long the economic downturn will last as coronavirus cases surged in the U.S. and Europe. The number of dead in Italy has surpassed those in China.
“There’s a lot of panic, but there are buyers on Wall Street looking for opportunities,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist for the Leuthold Group. “The issue is we don’t know where this is going to be in two months.”
Here are the main moves in markets:
The S&P 500 Index rose 0.5 per cent as of 4 p.m. New York time; the Nasdaq Composite added 2.3 per cent.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 2.9 per cent.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 3.1 per cent.
The MSCI Emerging Market Index fell 2.4 per cent.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gained 1.3 per cent.
The euro sank 2.2 per cent to US$1.0677.
The British pound fell 0.6 per cent to US$1.1534.
The Japanese yen weakened 2.4 per cent to 110.78 per dollar.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries declined three basis points to 1.16 per cent.
Germany’s 10-year yield rose four basis points to -0.20 per cent.
Britain’s 10-year yield fell 7 basis points to 0.72 per cent.
Japan’s 10-year yield climbed three basis points to 0.08 per cent.
West Texas Intermediate crude rose 25 per cent to US$25.43 a barrel.
Gold weakened 0.4 per cent to US$1,479.78 an ounce.