Stocks climb on oil price surge despite grim U.S. jobs data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World equity markets climbed on Thursday on a surge in risky assets like oil, offsetting concerns over an increasing death toll from the coronavirus pandemic that is expected to push the global economy into recession.

Investors sought the safety of the U.S. dollar and government bonds. Stocks and oil futures were among the few risk assets that advanced, with oil benchmarks surging 20% after U.S. President Donald Trump said he expected Saudi Arabia and Russia to reach a deal soon to end their oil price war.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe rose 1.20% after broad declines in Japan. European shares also rose 0.42% despite data showing U.S. weekly jobless claims jumped to a record 6.6 million, double the record from the previous week.

At the close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 469.93 points, or 2.24%, to 21,413.44, the S&P 500 gained 56.4 points, or 2.28%, to 2,526.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 126.73 points, or 1.72%, to 7,487.31.

“Most of the selling was done yesterday in anticipation of the jobs number and investors were looking for entry points as everyone expected it to be bad and they have been,” said Jamie Cox, managing partner of Harris Financial Group in New York.

“A lot the trading has been on fixed income because if oil prices stabilize, that will stabilize the bond market and will feed through to reduced default risk.”

Investors sought the perceived safety of government bonds. Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes last rose 3/32 in price to yield 0.6251%, from 0.635% after trading hours on Wednesday.

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The World Health Organization said the global case count would reach 1 million and the death toll 50,000 in the next few days. It currently stands at 46,906.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who had initially played down the outbreak, told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that he is considering a plan to halt flights to coronavirus hot zones in the United States.

In currency markets, the dollar rose 0.632% against a basket of six major currencies after a gain of 0.53% overnight. The euro traded down 0.99% at $1.0853 as the dollar advanced.

Brent crude futures jumped 20.9% to $29.91. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures soared 21% to $24.73.

Trump said he had talked with the leaders of both Russia and Saudi Arabia and believed the two countries would make a deal within a “few days” to lower production, thereby bring prices back up.

Reporting by David Randall; Additional reporting by Chibuike Oguh; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler