Asia shares set to follow Wall Street’s rally By Reuters

© Reuters. Pedestrian wearing a face mask walks near an overpass with an electronic board showing stock information in Shanghai

By Chris Prentice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Asian shares were poised to track Wall Street’s gains on Thursday on hopes the coronavirus pandemic is nearing a peak and that governments would roll out more stimulus measures.

Rising U.S. stocks on Wednesday had lifted the MSCI’s index of global equities () more than 2% despite pressure on European shares after euro zone finance ministers failed to agree on more support for their coronavirus-hit economies.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would like to reopen the U.S. economy with a “big bang” but that the death toll from the coronavirus first needs to be on the down slope.

On Thursday, Hong Kong futures () rose and Australian shares were set to open higher. Nikkei futures () rose and were trading above the Nikkei 225 index’s () previous close.

Oil prices () surged in early trade ahead of a crucial meeting of oil-producing countries.

Wall Street has rallied on Trump’s optimism though recent U.S. data is only now beginning to reflect the damage to businesses and the massive job losses to come.

In a sign of the pandemic’s likely impact, McDonald’s Corp (N:) global comparable sales tumbled 22.2% in March. Starbucks Corp (O:) on Wednesday forecast a 47% drop in second-quarter earnings and warned that the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic would extend into the end of the fiscal 2020.

The pandemic is still infecting and killing large numbers of people across Europe and there is still no sign that the peak of the region’s outbreak has been reached, the EU’s disease monitoring agency said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average () rose 779.71 points, or 3.44%, to 23,433.57, the S&P 500 () gained 90.57 points, or 3.41%, to 2,749.98 and the Nasdaq Composite () added 203.64 points, or 2.58%, to 8,090.90.

The Trump administration this week asked lawmakers for an additional $250 billion in emergency economic aid for small U.S. businesses reeling from the impact of the outbreak.

But Congressional efforts were stalling as Democrats said they would only back a $250-billion measure that was coupled with similar amounts of aid for hospitals and local governments.

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.4 million people and killed over 83,000 globally, the latest figures compiled by Reuters show.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, seemed to be levelling off in New York state, the U.S. epicenter for the disease, even as U.S. deaths topped 14,600, the second highest reported number in the world after Italy.

Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus emerged, ended its more-than two-month lockdown on Wednesday.

Graphic: Asian stock markets

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