Global markets rose on Friday despite mounting economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, as tensions eased between the White House and Beijing.
Share prices on Wall Street and in Europe ended the week on a high amid rising hopes that lockdown measures could be lifted soon to reboot growth and that a full-blown global trade war could be averted.
With stock markets closed in the UK for the early May bank holiday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 380 points, or 1.6%. European markets also rallied, with Germany’s Dax index and France’s Cac up by more than 1%.
The gains came despite increasingly gloomy updates from the economy, after official US figures on Friday showed that more than 20m people lost their jobs last month and after the Bank of England warned on Thursday the British economy could shrink by the largest amount in more than three centuries this year.
Analysts said investors had already priced in the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, and were buying shares as they anticipated lockdown measures being lifted around the world soon.
The gains also came after the US Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer spoke to Chinese vice-premier Liu He late on Thursday in the first trade talks between the world’s two biggest economies since January.
Amid concerns that Donald Trump would use the coronavirus pandemic to escalate the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing in retaliation for China’s handling of the pandemic, analysts said the call may signal a cooling of tensions between the two sides.
Oil markets also rallied, with the price of a barrel of crude rising by around 1% to $30. After plunging in recent weeks amid concerns over the impact on demand during the pandemic, with factories closed and international air travel grounded, the oil price ended the week up by more than 20%.
The second consecutive week of gains came amid rising hopes that the end of lockdown measures could lead to an upswing in demand for crude.
Edward Moya, senior market analyst at the trading platform Oanda, said it also reflected a belief among investors that the sharp rise in unemployment and the wider economic fallout would be temporary. “Today’s stock market rally is mostly attributed to US-China trade negotiators pledging support for the phase-1 trade deal,” he added.