World equity markets rallied for a fourth day on Thursday, with key stock indexes touching fresh peaks, as news that China plans to cut tariffs in half on some U.S. goods buoyed risk sentiment and pushed safe-haven currencies lower.
The yield on Germany’s benchmark 10-year Bund touched its highest in almost two weeks and U.S. Treasury yields rose as investors bet China’s efforts to contain the deadly coronavirus would mitigate its impact on the global economy.
The death toll in mainland China jumped by 73 to 563, with more than 28,000 infections confirmed.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in an interview with Fox Business Network, downplayed concerns that the outbreak could affect global supply chains, but acknowledged “this is something we’re monitoring very carefully.”
Major stock indexes, including the STOXX Europe 600 of small-, mid- and large-cap stocks, the benchmark S&P 500 and Dow industrials on Wall Street, and the S&P/TSX composite in Toronto, set records.
In Toronto, the S&P/TSX was unofficially up 105.90 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 17,7575.49, logging its fourth consecutive session of gains.
The energy sector dropped 1.3 per cent as crude prices slipped.
The financial and industrial sectors gained 0.9 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively, while the materials sector, which includes precious and base metals miners and fertilizer companies, added 0.9 per cent as gold futures rose.
Leading the index were Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., up 11.5 per cent, Semafo Inc., up 8.3 per cent, and FirstService Corp., higher by 6.7 per cent.
Lagging shares were Lightspeed POS Inc., down 13.3 per cent, Aphria Inc., down 5.2 per cent, and Aurora Cannabis Inc., lower by 5.2 per cent.
The yen slid to a two-week low against the dollar and the franc fell to its weakest in more than a week as investors hailed news China would halve tariffs
Many risk-off moves taken over the past two weeks are being unwound, said Simon Harvey, an FX market analyst at Monex Europe in London.
“We’re seeing credible responses from monetary authorities in China and it looks like it’s soothing market fears of a more entrenched slowdown in the Chinese economy,” Harvey said.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.53 per cent and its emerging market stocks rose 1.03 per cent.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.44 per cent, helped by a swathe of strong earnings reports, with the euro zone banks index posting its biggest daily gain in a month.
Indexes in Frankfurt, Paris and London all gained, rising between 0.3 per cent and 0.9 per cent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 89.19 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 29,380.04, the S&P 500 gained 11.08 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 3,345.77 and the Nasdaq Composite added 63.47 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 9,572.15.
Rebounding worker productivity in the fourth quarter and other U.S. economic data also lifted sentiment on Wall Street.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropped to a nine-month low last week.
Despite optimism about containing economic fallout, the impact of the health emergency in China was showing up in corporate reports. Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc flagged a potential threat to the mobile phone industry from the outbreak, and its shares fell 1.7 per cent.
The dollar index rose 0.21 per cent, with the euro down 0.2 per cent to $1.0975. The yen weakened 0.15 per cent versus the greenback at 110.00 per dollar.
Gold rose on expectations central banks will keep interest rates low. U.S. gold futures settled up 0.5 per cent at $1,570 an ounce.
Bond yields in Europe were pressured upward by remarks from European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde that euro zone growth remains modest but there are signs of stabilization.
Germany’s Bund yield rose as much as 3 basis points to -0.339 per cent, its highest in almost two weeks, before pulling back to around -0.39 per cent.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell 1/32 in price to yield 1.6508 per cent.
Brent crude gave up early gains as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia gave mixed signals about possible further output cuts to counter concerns about weak demand due to the coronavirus.
Brent fell by 35 cents to settle at $54.93 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate rose 20 cents to settle at $51.07 a barrel.