Stock markets ease back amid glum economic reports

Published 1:01 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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AP Business Writer
TOKYO (AP) — Stock markets eased back Tuesday from a rally the day before as poor economic data reinforced the challenges the world faces in recovering from the recession induced by the coronavirus pandemic.
While markets began the week on a strong note amid optimism over a potential vaccine for the coronavirus, they steadied on Tuesday after a record jump in jobless claims in Britain and a 76% slide in new car sales across Europe.
France’s CAC 40 fell 0.7% to 4,465, while Germany’s DAX lost 0.4% to 11,014. Britain’s FTSE 100 also edged down 0.6% to 6,021. U.S. shares were set for declines, with Dow futures falling 0.1% and S&P 500 futures down 0.2%.
A report that the U.S. tech-heavy Nasdaq plans to tighten rules for initial public offerings revived caution over the potential for more friction between the U.S. and China.
But in Asia the mood was upbeat after the drug company Moderna said it had promising results from a coronavirus vaccine.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.5% to finish at 20,433.45. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.8% to 5,559.50. South Korea’s Kospi was up 2.3% to 1,980.61. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.9% to 24,388.13, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.8% to 2,898.58.
That was “the biggest mood booster for markets, given the fact that the lingering coronavirus implications remain the single biggest issue holding back the market from recovery and a contributor to other risk factors including U.S.-China tensions,” Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.
Massachusetts-based Moderna saw its stock jump 20% in New York trading Monday.
A safe, effective vaccine for the new coronavirus would help reinforce confidence as economies reopen after shutdowns to contain the pandemic. Experts have warned, however, that development of such a vaccine will likely take many months, and possibly years.
Investors also have been encouraged by remarks over the weekend from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who expressed optimism that the U.S. economy could begin to recover in the second half of the year. Once the outbreak has been contained, he said, the economy should be able to rebound “substantially.”
Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 91 cents to $32.73 a barrel. It jumped 8.1% to 31.82 a barrel Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 12 cents to $34.93 a barrel.
The dollar rose to 107.72 Japanese yen from 107.31 yen on Monday. The euro rose to $1.0958 from $1.0920.

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