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Saturday August 15th, 2020 3:22AM

Global stocks follow Wall Street higher on bank news

By The Associated Press
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BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets followed Wall Street higher Friday after U.S. regulators removed some limits on banks' ability to make investments.

London and Frankfurt opened higher, while Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney also rose. Hong Kong declined. Chinese markets were closed for a holiday.

Wall Street closed higher after the Federal Reserve and other regulators announced they will ease rules that limit banks' ability to invest in hedge funds and some other areas. The change could help to boost bank profits after central banks cut interest rates to almost zero in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gains were relatively small because Washington delivered no more than was expected, Stephen Innes of AxiTrader Corp. said in a report. He said markets gave a similar “mild reaction” to the Bank of England's earlier decision to ease policy.

“Investors are finding it hard to see the marginal or incremental new support,” said Innes. “Investors may need more prominent catalysts. Ideally a vaccine.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 1.2% to 6,218.54 and Frankfurt's DAX added 0.8% to 12,268.80. The CAC 40 in France was 0.9% higher at 4,963.08.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index was down 0.4%. That for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6%.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 index rose 1.1%. The Dow gained 1.2% and the Nasdaq composite, which hit an all-time high earlier this week, gained 1.1%.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 1.1% to 22,512.08 while Seoul's Kospi gained 1.1% to 2,134.65. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.9% to 24,563.11.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney added 1.5% to 5,904.10 and India's Sensex advanced 0.6% to 35,064.18. New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta also advanced.

Analysts say investors are looking ahead to a possible rebound from the deepest global downturn since the 1930s and trying to buy companies that will thrive after the pandemic ends. But they warn the market rise might be too fast and too early to be sustained by an uncertain economic outlook.

Asian economies are wrapping up their worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis.

China and other governments are due to report June trade, factory output and other indicators starting next week.

“With second COVID-19 waves spreading in some countries and first-wave outbreaks not yet over in others, the economic slump has a long way to go,” said Prakash Sakpal of ING in a report.

The U.S. economy shrank by 5% in the first quarter of the year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Forecasters expect a worse decline during the quarter that ends next week.

Investors in the United States have been encouraged by official moves to lift anti-virus measures and allow businesses to reopen. But some states have reimposed curbs after a resurgence in new infections.

Hospitalizations and cases have hit new highs in California, Florida and Texas, which is suspending its aggressive reopening. The daily number of confirmed cases in the country closed in on the peak reached in late April.

After the close of trading on Thursday, the Fed ordered the 34 biggest U.S. banks to suspend buybacks of their stock and to cap dividend payments until Sept. 30 so they can shore up their defenses in case of a damaging recession.

The Fed said its annual “stress tests” showed banks would collectively lose about $700 billion in a worst-case scenario.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 22 cents to $38.94 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It closed Thursday at $38.72 a barrel. Brent crude, the price standard for international oils, added 28 cents to $41.40 per barrel in London. It closed at $41.05 in the previous session.

The dollar declined to 106.97 from Thursday's 107.23 yen. The euro rose to $1.1232 from $1.1222.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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