February 4, 2020 / 12:36 AM / 25 days ago

Stocks surge, safe-havens fall as confidence grows in China's virus efforts

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar strengthened and global equity markets surged on Tuesday, with Wall Street’s Nasdaq index hitting a record high, as investors took heart from China’s efforts to minimize the economic impact from the coronavirus epidemic.

The price of gold and government debt, traditional safe havens, slid as investors gained confidence that China will do whatever it can to alleviate the economic toll from an outbreak that has killed more than 420 people and infected more than 20,000.

The People’s Bank of China pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system this week, and policymakers are readying further measures to support the economy, policy sources told Reuters. China’s central bank said the measures it has taken this week showed its determination to stabilize financial market expectations and restore market confidence.

Chinese stocks overnight reversed some of Monday’s plunge while European equities posted their best single-day gain since Oct. 11, when a breakthrough was reached on Brexit talks. Copper prices jumped after China moved to protect its economy.

MSCI’s gauge of global equity performance .MIWD00000PUS rose 1.48%, its biggest one-day gain since Oct. 8 as a rally on Wall Street lifted the index, which is 55% weighted to U.S. stocks.

London's heavyweight FTSE .FTSE rose 1.55% on gains in mining stocks and a weak pound due to renewed worries about Britain's post-Brexit trade relations with the European Union.

Chinese stocks rebounded in choppy trade a day after anxiety over the coronavirus erased $400 billion in value from Shanghai’s benchmark index when the market reopened following an extended Lunar New Year holiday.

The Shanghai Composite .SSEC closed up 1.3%, while the blue-chip CSI300 .CSI300 rebounded 2.6% after a near 8% slide on Monday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI advanced 1.2%.

From a global perspective, the coronavirus outbreak is seen as a temporary setback, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management.

“Worried investors drew pretty scary trendlines and that’s probably not the case,” Ablin said. “China is certainly taking the coronavirus seriously.”

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 1.64% and emerging market stocks rose 2.40%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 407.82 points, or 1.44%, to 28,807.63. The S&P 500 .SPX gained 48.67 points, or 1.50%, to 3,297.59 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 194.57 points, or 2.1%, to 9,467.97.

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) dropped 2.5% after the company reported results late Monday, as Google’s advertising business and new data about YouTube and Google Cloud broadly disappointed.

Other technology stocks, however, rallied. Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares rose 3.3% and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) gained 3.29%, which helped the technology .SPLRCT index climb 2.6%.

The safe-haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc CHF= fell against the dollar for a second straight session.

The dollar index .DXY rose 0.15%, with the euro EUR= down 0.14% to $1.1042. The yen JPY= weakened 0.74% versus the greenback at 109.50 per dollar.

China's yuan gained 0.3% in international markets to 6.9935 yuan per dollar CNH=, in line with rebounds in Chinese shares and holding above its one-month low of 7.0230 per dollar hit in European trade on Monday.

Oil prices edged lower as fears that energy demand would take a long-term hit from the coronavirus outbreak offset prospects for more cuts in crude production from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.

A trader works at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 4, 2020. REUTERS/Bryan R Smith

Brent crude LCOc1 fell 49 cents to settle at $53.96 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 settled down 50 cents at $49.61, the first settlement below $50 since January 2019.

U.S. gold futures GCcv1 settled down 1.7% at $1,555.50 an ounce.

Copper CMCU3, which is used as a gauge of global economic health, in particular China’s, ended the session 1.7% higher at $5,618 a tonne.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis

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