By Elizabeth Howcroft
LONDON, May 8 (Reuters) – Global shares rallied on Friday as investors cheered signs of improving Sino-American relations and looked towards more governments gradually reopening their economies.
The positive mood stands in sharp contrast to the economic data. U.S. unemployment numbers due later on Friday are expected to be the worst in a lifetime as the coronavirus pandemic ravages economies.
Top U.S. and Chinese trade representatives discussed their Phase 1 trade deal on Friday, with China saying they agreed to improve the atmosphere for its implementation and the United States saying both sides expected obligations to be met.
Asian markets, which had opened higher following gains on Wall Street, were lifted by news of a phone call between U.S. and China trade representatives.
This calmed investors’ fears about renewed trade tensions after U.S. President Donald Trump and other top officials blamed China for the deaths of hundreds of thousands from the new coronavirus and threatened punitive action, including possible tariffs and shifting supply chains away from China.
“The threat of a breakdown in negotiations for now at least has been averted, though of course the president continues to persist with some of his comments regarding the COVID outbreak but at least from the trade side it looks as though the participants involved have dialled down the temperature a little bit,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.
Improving sentiment also put European futures comfortably in the black, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 up 0.6% at 339.86 points, Germany’s DAX up 0.75% at 10,840 and France’s CAC 40 0.6% higher at 4,526.
U.S. stock futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.92% to 2,906.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was half a percent higher, while MSCI’s main European Index was up 0.64%.
The Euro STOXX 600 was 0.6% higher, helped by the construction and materials sector.
Oil prices climbed as countries including Australia moved ahead with plans to relax economic and social lockdowns put in place to halt the virus pandemic, kindling market hopes for a boost in demand for crude and its products.
Brent crude was up 77 cents, or 2.6%, at $30.23 a barrel, while U.S. oil gained $1.06, or 4.5%, to $24.61 a barrel.
Both contracts are heading for a second week of gains after the lows of April.
Core European bond yields were little changed, and the spread between German and Italian ten-year government bonds narrowed by 6 basis points.
Unemployment data due later in the day is expected to show a historic hit to the U.S. labour market.
Forecasters expect the U.S. economy likely lost a staggering 22 million jobs in April, in what would be the steepest plunge in payrolls since the Great Depression and the starkest sign yet of how the virus pandemic is battering the world’s top economy.
“The situation on the U.S. labour market is a disaster – that is no secret,” wrote Commerzbank strategist Thu Lan Nguyen in a note to clients.
“And today everyone’s attention is going to focus on the labour market report for April to find out just how bad the disaster is.”
The dollar slipped against a basket of six major currencies in early trading as investors defied the broader sense of doom. By early European trading, the dollar was edging up again, suggesting the optimism would not endure.
A public holiday in Britain means liquidity will be thin as London markets are closed.
Gold hovered near a two-week high hit in the previous session as investors awaited the U.S. jobs report, with spot gold holding just below the highest since April 27.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Mark Potter)