European stocks climb as economic concerns over coronavirus ease

European stocks climb as economic concerns over coronavirus ease

London Stock Exchange
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians leave and enter the London Stock Exchange. (REUTERS/Neil Hall)

LONDON: European stock markets climbed on Wednesday (Feb 12) on easing investor concerns over the economic impact of COVID-19.

While the death toll from China's coronavirus epidemic climbed past 1,100 on Wednesday, the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, raising hope the outbreak could peak later this month.

US stocks pushed into record territory yet again, while in Europe the DAX 30 in Frankfurt set a record close. Paris closed at its highest level this year.

Market sentiment has been positive since US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that its assessment of the economic fallout was not as gloomy as many had expected.

There are meanwhile expectations that Beijing will introduce major stimulus policies to offset economic hits.

"It's now hoped that, as far as the economy is concerned, we're just facing a bad quarter that could wipe around 1.0 per cent of full-year Chinese growth," noted Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe.

COVID-19 emerged in central China late last year and has spooked equity and oil markets for weeks as it spread to more than two dozen countries.

While it isn't clear what the full impact of the outbreak will be on the economy and a vaccine isn't in sight, investors appear to think the worst of the health emergency is past.

"The markets are ready to seize upon any sign of good news, so the fact there is evidence the number of new cases in China is falling was plenty of reason to push higher," said SpreadEx analyst Connor Campbell.

With economic concerns easing, Brent crude oil rallied by more than two percent on Wednesday while safe-haven investment gold retreated.

"Gold is slowly losing its appeal as traders declare the end of COVID-19 in sight," said Erlam.

"This may be premature but stock markets are at record highs and central banks appear relatively relaxed about the whole situation."

US plane manufacturer Boeing, however, issued a stark warning about the impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, saying there was "no question" it would hammer the aviation industry and the broader economy.

Major airlines have halted flights in and out of China, where a lockdown has been imposed in the worst-affected areas, while several countries have banned arrivals from China.

"You have several global airlines that have limited their traffic in and out of China, that's revenue," said Ihssane Mounir, the US plane maker's senior vice president of commercial global sales and marketing.

Meanwhile, the OPEC oil cartel lowered its forecast for growth in global oil demand this year by nearly a fifth due to the impact of the outbreak in China.

Key figures at 1630 GMT:

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 per cent at 7,534.37 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0. Per cent at 13,7 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.8 per cent at 6,104.73 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 per cent at 3,851.23

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 per cent at 23,861.21 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.9 per cent at 27,823.66 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.9 per cent at 2,926.90 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.0893 from US$1.0916
Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.2975 from US$1.2952
Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.96 pence from 84.28 pence
Dollar/yen: UP at 110.03 from 109.79

Brent Crude: UP 2.9 per cent at US$55.60 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.4 per cent at US$51.16 per barrel

Source: AFP/de