European stocks made modest gains Thursday, one day after a brutal selloff, but US indices struggled on continued worries about a resurgence of coronavirus and mounting job losses in the US.
Oil also recovered some of Wednesday’s five percent tumble on increasing infections stoking demand worries, just as the latest data showed a big jump in US stockpiles for a third week.
Asia extended losses after heavy overnight falls on Wall Street, amid holiday closures in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
There were hefty losses in New York and across Europe on Wednesday on heightened fears of a second wave of the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
“Stock markets have edged up today after Wednesday’s falls, but there is still a lingering sense of caution over the signs of rising infection rates in the US,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG.
European markets held onto their gains until the close, but Wall Street has wobbled back and forth in morning trading.
– Rally set to stall? –
A three-month surge across world markets, supported by the easing of lockdown measures and a wall of government cash, is showing signs of stalling as the virus sees a resurgence and raises questions about the pace of reopening.
A key worry is the US, where dozens of states including Texas, Florida and Arizona have seen infections surge in recent days.
Some US officials who loosened restrictions on business, dining, public gatherings and tourism are now urging residents to again stay home.
“Coronavirus concerns continue to apply indirect selling pressure through reports highlighting the possibility of more states/businesses pausing reopening efforts and/or re-thinking enforcement approaches to keep the spread of coronavirus contained,” said market analyst Patrick J. O’Hare at Briefing.com.
Disneyland, near Los Angeles, delayed its planned July 17 reopening without announcing a new date for the world’s second-most visited theme park, while Apple and Nike have closed stores that had only recently reopened.
The issue has become serious enough for New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to announce they will impose a 14-day quarantine on people arriving from areas with high infection rates.
IG’s Beauchamp said that if death rates spike again “lockdowns could return very swiftly, and that will call the rally in risk assets into question in a more serious fashion.”
– US jobs figures disappoint –
Meanwhile, the latest US jobless data provided little cause for joy.
Another 1.48 million Americans filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, a worse-than-expected figure that showed the continuing potency of the coronavirus pandemic.
The new claims were a decrease of only 60,000 from the week prior and brought the total since the business shutdowns began in mid-March to more than 47.2 million.
“The disappointment in jobless claims underscored concerns the world’s largest economy will take a long time to recover,” said ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
– Key figures around 1530 GMT –
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 6,147.14 points (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 12,177.87 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.0 percent at 4,918.58 (close)
Madrid – IBEX 35: UP 1.0 percent at 7,270.30 (close)
Milan – FTSE Mib: UP 0.4 percent at 19,234.78 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.1 percent at 3,231.73
New York – Dow: FLAT at 25,450.51
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.2 percent at 22,259.79 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for public holiday
Shanghai – Composite: Closed for public holiday
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.8 percent at $38.32 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.8 percent at $40.64 per barrel
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1218 from $1.1251 at 2100 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 107.18 yen from 107.04 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2416 from $1.2419
Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.42 pence from 90.59 pence