Global equity markets scaled fresh highs on Wednesday after China reported the lowest number of new coronavirus cases in two weeks, boosting hopes the epidemic will be contained and driving up the price of commodities sensitive to Chinese demand.
China confirmed 2,015 new cases of the deadly virus, the lowest daily increase since Jan. 30 as the total rose to 44,653. The report eased financial market concerns about the potential impact on both the Chinese and global economies.
The greeenback hit a more than two-year high against the euro as investors poured money into U.S. stocks, even as Dale Fisher, a global expert associated with the World Health Organization, warned that the virus’ toll was just beginning outside China.
Crude oil prices surged on the slowing rate of infection, spurring hopes that demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumption market may begin to recover.
Copper climbed on the belief that China, the biggest metals consumer, faces a short but sharper economic shock than first thought. How harsh the impact will be varies widely.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the economic impact from the coronavirus outbreak is a one-time event that will not last beyond 2020.
Markets are clearly encouraged by the moderating trajectory of new and suspected cases of the virus, as well as the continued support of Federal Reserve monetary policy, said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial.
Renewed enthusiasm among investors also is being driven by corporate earnings growth and a global economic recovery that was becoming evident before the coronavirus outbreak, he said.
However, investor enthusiasm may be tested once economic data from late January and February begins to roll in, Joy said.
“By a number of measures, valuations are quite extended, making this rally something of a leap of faith,” he said. “I would not argue with anyone wishing to bank some of their profits.”
Stock indexes around the world hit new highs, including the three major Wall Street gauges, MSCI’s world index, the pan-European STOXX 600, Germany’s DAX, the S&P/TSX in Canada and the S&P/NZX 50 in New Zealand.
Canada’s main stock index pushed into record territory led by the technology sector as shares in Shopify Inc. soared after the retail software company reported sales in its latest quarter gained 47 per cent compared with a year ago.
The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was unofficially up 55.74 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 17,832.85.
The energy sector climbed increased 1 per cent as a rise in oil prices.
The materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, lost 0.7 per cent as gold futures fell.
Shopify Inc. was the biggest percentage gainer on the TSX, gaining 7.7 per cent after posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings and forecasting full-year revenue above Wall Street estimates.
Also leading the index were West Fraser Timber Co Ltd., up 8.5 per cent, and Bombardier ., higher by 8.5 per cent.
Lagging shares were Pretium Resources Inc., down 21.3 per cent, Finning International Inc., down 8.7 per cent, and Aurora Cannabis Inc., lower by 6.1 per cent.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.50 per cent and emerging market stocks rose 0.92 per cent.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.63 per cent and the DAX rose 0.77 per cent.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 274.32 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 29,550.66, the S&P 500 gained 21.61 points, or 0.64 per cent, to 3,379.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 87.02 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 9,725.96.
North Sea Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose more than 3 per cent.
Brent crude added $1.78 to settle at $55.79 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose $1.23 to settle at $51.17 a barrel.
Gold prices traded little changed after touching a one-week low as risk sentiment improved.
U.S. gold futures settled 0.1 per cent higher at $1,571.60 an ounce.
Overnight in Asia, mainland Chinese and Hong Kong shares rose almost 1 per cent. The offshore-traded yuan reached two-week highs. The Thai baht, Korean won and Taiwanese dollar, reliant on Chinese tourism and trade, gained 0.3 per cent to 0.5 per cent .
The dollar index rose 0.32 per cent, with the euro down 0.4 per cent to $1.087. The Japanese yen weakened 0.26 per cent versus the greenback at 110.10 per dollar.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 13/32 in price to yield 1.6333 per cent.
Reuters and The Canadian Press