Stocks – Europe Climbs as Hope Over Virus Cure Grows

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Investing.com – European stock markets pushed higher Friday, as investors dismissed weak Chinese growth data to focus on reports of a potentially promising treatment for the coronavirus and plans for re-opening major economies.

At 3:55 AM ET (0755 GMT), the U.K.’s FTSE index traded 2.5% higher, France’s CAC 40 was up 3.2%, while the DAX rose 2.9%. The broader based Stoxx 600 Europe index climbed 2.5%. 

Earlier Friday, China registered a contraction in its economy in the first quarter – the first in almost three decades of records, as gross domestic product fell 6.8% in January-March year-on-year. 

This offered up a foretaste of what is to come in Europe and the Americas in the second quarter, but investors have been buoyed by a media report on Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) Sciences’ experimental drug remdesivir in severe Covid-19 patients, which detailed encouraging partial data from trials of its experimental drug remdesivir.

This, along with countries starting to open up their economies in Europe and President Donald Trump detailing guidelines for something similar in the U.S., has led investors to take a positive stance Friday.

In corporate news, French cosmetic group L’Oreal SA (PA:OREP) and luxury group LVMH (PA:LVMH) both rose strongly after giving encouraging outlooks for the rest of the year in China, where both generate a large share of sales. L’Oreal’s first-quarter revenue also beat expectations, thanks partly to surging sales of skincare products.

The only economic indicator of note due for release Friday will be the final consumer price inflation number for the euro zone in March, at 5 AM ET (0900 GMT).

This “will likely confirm that inflation pressures eased in the euro area during the month,” said Danske Bank, in a research note. “As this coincides with the fall in the oil price and economic activity, deflation worries have returned to the market.”

Oil prices remained under pressure Friday, with the rolling-over of long position in the May WTI contract into June sending the former down as much as 8.3% lower at $18.03 a barrel, a new 18-year low. However, the more representative June contract was down only 6c at $25.47. The international benchmark Brent contract fell 0.1% to $27.80.

Elsewhere, gold futures fell 1% to $1,714/oz, while EUR/USD traded at 1.0835, flat on the day.

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