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Stock markets surge on swift recovery hopes

London, United Kingdom | AFP | Growing optimism about a swift global economic recovery pushed equity markets sharply higher Wednesday, as investors took heart from further easing of lockdowns while looking past China-US tensions and civil unrest across America.

The upbeat mood — and hopes for an extension to a massive oil output cut agreement — resulted in Brent crude futures breaking the $40-mark for the first time in nearly three months, before profit-taking kicked in.

Governments in Europe and Asia have become confident enough to lift containment measures that have likely pushed the world economy into recession and destroyed tens of millions of jobs.

“The lifting of lockdown restrictions combined with enormous central bank support means investors are shrugging off little things like collapsing GDP and worsening US-China tension,” said Neil Wilson at trading site Markets.com.

In Europe, the London, Frankfurt and Paris indices were all solidly higher at the closing bell.

On Wall Street, the DJIA had added more than 400 points by the late New York morning, doubling its opening gains.

Earlier, Tokyo and Hong Kong stock markets closed up more than one percent, while Sydney put on 1.8 percent after data showed the Australian economy contracted at a slower rate than feared in the first quarter — though it remains on course for its first recession in nearly 30 years.

– More fuel for oil rally –

“For now the good virus news… (is) more than outweighing the bad,” National Australia Bank said in a client note.

However, it warned that there remained a lot of risk that could spark a massive sell-off.

World Bank head David Malpass was also concerned about the outlook, saying estimates that anti-virus measures would wipe out $5 trillion are likely to fall far short of the actual damage.

Oil prices rose in Asian trading on hopes that major producers will extend their output cuts, while investors were also cheered by signs of a further drop in US stockpiles indicating demand is improving.

“The most bullish outcome for oil from the meeting is no sign of squabbling between Russia and Saudi Arabia,” whose price war earlier this year helped send prices crashing, said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp.

“Headlines suggest they are on the same page on supply, and that’s bullish for oil in the context of an improving demand backdrop.”

Crude futures cooled in later European deals, but then got a late lift from a Russian report that a new output cut deal had been agreed behind the scenes.

– Key figures around 1540 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 2.6 percent at 6,342.41 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 3.9 percent at 12,487.36 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 3.4 percent at 5,022.38 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 3.5 percent at 3,269.59

New York – Dow: UP 1.7 percent at 26,175.70

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.3 percent at 22,613.76 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.4 percent at 24,325.62 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,923.37 (close)

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $37.04 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.1 percent at $39.59

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1232 from $1.1166 at 2040 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.95 yen from 108.69 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2600 from $1.2550

Euro/pound: UP at 89.16 pence from 88.96 pence

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