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* World stocks race toward second-best week on record
* U.S. plans to reopen economy, virus treatment hopes lift mood Markets take China economic contraction in stride
* U.S. oil futures slump 8% to hit 18-year low
NEW YORK/LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) - Global stocks rallied on Friday on President Donald Trump’s plans to revive the coronavirus-hit U.S. economy and hopes of a potential drug to treat COVID-19, while the dollar fell amid a growing risk-on sentiment among investors.
The bulls charged ahead on reports that patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms had responded positively to Gilead Sciences’ experimental drug, remdesivir, lifting its shares 8.3%.
Boeing’s announcement it would resume production of commercial jets next week also buoyed sentiment and gave traders a reason to shrug off a 6.8% decline in Chinese gross domestic product, the first contraction since 1992 when modern record-keeping began.
The dollar slid against the euro and Japanese yen and gold fell as much as 2% as investors globally drew comfort from Trump’s plans to gradually re-open the U.S. economy in a staggered, three-stage approach.
China along with Germany, Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe also have plans to reopen their economies even as the death toll from the pandemic rises.
“It’s too early to signal the all-clear, but I do think we’re making progress,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.
Economies will not fully recover until people are comfortable they can move about in public without being exposed to the coronavirus and getting sick, he said. In addition, laid-off workers must be rehired but there is a silver lining in that at least half indicate their situation is temporary, he said.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 1.90%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 2.38% and is up nearly 8% over the last two weeks.
On Wall Street, stocks pared earlier gains but remained firmly in positive territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 406.88 points, or 1.73%, to 23,944.56. The S&P 500 gained 44.72 points, or 1.60%, to 2,844.27 and the Nasdaq Composite added 59.36 points, or 0.7%, to 8,591.72.
Nearly 150,000 people have died from the disease, according to a Reuters tally. Nearly 1,300 people who died in Wuhan, or half the Chinese total, were not counted in death tolls because of lapses, state media said.
Asia had a strong session. Tokyo’s Nikkei and Seoul’s KOPSI both closed up over 3% and industrial metal copper, somewhat a bellwether of global economic health, was up nearly 4% for the week.
The dollar index fell 0.221%, with the euro up 0.43% to $1.0882. The yen strengthened 0.40% versus the greenback at 107.54 per dollar.
But gloomy news still abounded.
Credit rating firm S&P Global downgraded another clutch of countries hit by the coronavirus and warned that even triple-A and other top-rated nations could be cut depending on how they manage the longer-term consequences of the pandemic.
In Europe, Italy’s government bonds, which have been under pressure as the country’s virus difficulties push its debt-to-GDP ratio towards 150%, rallied again.
U.S. long-dated Treasury yields fell to two-week lows, despite higher-risk appetite overall.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 2/32 in price to yield 0.604%.
Spot gold dropped 1.6% to $1,689.87 an ounce.
Oil prices were mixed as investors sold U.S. crude futures on rapidly filling storage, offsetting support from Trump’s plans to revive the U.S. economy.
U.S. crude recently fell 8.51% to $18.18 per barrel and Brent was at $28.42, up 2.16% on the day.
Reporting by Marc Jones; Additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Chris Reese
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