Oil surge lifts global stocks out of three-day losing streak

Business

A gauge of global stock markets rose on Tuesday, snapping a three-day losing streak, while oil prices soared as investors shrugged off grim economic data on hopes the easing of coronavirus lockdowns will jump start economies and revive fuel demand.

The dollar rose against most major currencies, bolstered by better-than-expected U.S. services data. The greenback’s gains were also supported after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed verbal attacks on China, raising fears of a new trade war.

Oil prices surged, with U.S. crude futures rocketing 20% on hopes a recovery in vehicle traffic will boost fuel demand as some U.S. states, as well as countries in Europe and Asia, start to ease lockdowns. Risk appetite rose, lifting bond yields as gold prices fell.

“Continued talk about re-opening the economy and de-sheltering, that gives a lot of people hope the economy may recover sooner that some believe,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

“The market just seems to keep wanting to go up,” he said.

Pfizer Inc rose 2.6% after it announced a venture with its German partner had started delivering doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine for human testing in the United States, news that also buoyed sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 212.09 points, or 0.89%, to 23,961.85. The S&P 500 gained 32.22 points, or 1.13%, to 2,874.96 and the Nasdaq Composite added 118.96 points, or 1.37%, to 8,829.68.

Economic data on Tuesday was dour as expected given the widespread lockdowns that have caused non-essential businesses around the world to grind to a virtual halt.

U.S. gross domestic product declined at a 4.8% annualized rate in the first quarter, the steepest pace of contraction in output since late 2008, while the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) showed the nation’s vast services sector was in contraction in April for the first time in nearly 10-1/2-years.

Oil majors pushed the main stock indices higher across Europe, Canada and on Wall Street as Brent crude futures surged almost 14%. But Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp pared gains to lose their top spots on the Dow. Royal Dutch Shell and BP Plc in London, Total in Paris, Eni SpA in Milan and Repsol in Madrid led their respective country indices higher, as did Cenovus Energy on Bay Street in Toronto.

“There is some hope that things are starting to get back to normal, and the rally in oil is helping put some confidence back in the markets,” said Keith Temperton, a sales trader at Tavira Securities.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 2.15% while MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1.56%.

German shares lost some ground at one point after Germany’s top court said the European Central Bank’s bond purchasing program partially violates the constitution.

The euro and the region’s government debt fell, too, though the court said the ECB program did not amount to monetary financing – in which a central bank bankrolls the government – which is banned in Germany. The ruling also did not apply to the bank’s new coronavirus PEPP support program.

The euro slid 0.56% to $1.0845 and a sell-off in bond markets pushed Italy’s ultra ECB-sensitive government yields up past 1.90% again.

The slide in the euro bolstered the dollar. The dollar index rose 0.259%, but the jump in oil meant the big petro currencies like Canada’s dollar, Norway’s crown and Russia’s ruble were all stronger.

U.S. oil futures jumped 20%. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose $4.17 to settle at $24.56 a barrel. Brent futures added $3.77 to settle at $30.97, the first time since April 15 the international benchmarket rose above $30 a barrel.

Spot gold was up 0.2% at $1,705.57 per ounce at 2:05 p.m. EDT (1805 GMT). U.S. gold futures settled down 0.2% at $1,710.60.