NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - Global equity benchmarks edged higher on Friday as investors weighed a slight gain in oil against concerns that further stimulus measures by the European Union to combat the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic could be delayed until next year.
Safe-haven assets such as the dollar and government bonds were flat, reflecting the market’s unsettled direction.
MSCI’s All Country World Index gained 0.18% following modest declines in Asia and Europe. The index is on pace for its worst weekly performance since March.
Equity markets gave up their gains on Thursday after a report that Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir had failed to help severely ill COVID-19 patients in its first clinical trial.
“Any piece of bad news is likely to rattle the market,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at New York-based wealth management firm Inverness Counsel. “Investors are keen for a semblance of hope that they can soon crawl out of their homes and get on with some form of normal life, even if with trepidation and fear.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 153.2 points, or 0.65%, to 23,668.46, the S&P 500 gained 17.26 points, or 0.62%, to 2,815.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 35.06 points, or 0.41%, to 8,529.81.
EU leaders agreed on Thursday to build a trillion-euro emergency fund to help recover from the coronavirus outbreak, while leaving divisive details until the summer.
French President Emmanuel Macron said differences continued between EU governments over whether the fund should be transferring grant money, or simply making loans.
“The risk exists that a concrete decision on the creation of the recovery fund may not occur before September, thereby not being operational before early 2021,” Goldman Sachs European economist Alain Durre wrote in a note.
Investors remained in perceived safe havens such as government bonds and the dollar. U.S. benchmark 10-year notes were down 3/32 in price to yield 0.6181%, from 0.611% late on Thursday, while the dollar index fell 0.159%.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $484 billion bill to expand federal loans to small businesses and hospitals overwhelmed by patients.
President Donald Trump, who has indicated he will sign the bill, said late Thursday he may need to extend social distancing guidelines to early summer.
Oil prices broadly retained their recovery from a price collapse this week that pushed U.S. crude futures into negative territory for the first time ever, helped by producers such as Kuwait saying they would move to cut output.
U.S. crude recently rose 3.7% to $17.11 per barrel and Brent was at $21.58, up 1.17% on the day.
Reporting by David Randall; editing by Jonathan Oatis