Tech Sector Pushes Stocks Higher; Oil Extends Gain: Markets Wrap

This content was published on April 24, 2020 - 19:14

(Bloomberg) -- Technology and consumer shares pushed U.S. stocks higher as investors assessed the latest batch of earnings reports and efforts to reopen the American economy. Oil gained after a week of wild price swings.

The S&P 500 was still headed for a loss in the week that’s brought fresh evidence of deep damage to the American economy. Apple and Microsoft were the biggest percentage gainers in the tech sector of the benchmark index.

In an optimistic sign, President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion spending package that includes more money for small businesses, the latest bid by Washington lawmakers to rescue an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. Earnings continued to roll in, with Intel Corp. joining the ranks that have withdrawn full-year guidance. West Texas Intermediate crude futures hovered around $17 a barrel in New York, after collapsing earlier this week.

In Europe, leaders signed off on a 540 billion-euro ($580 billion) plan tackling the immediate fallout from the pandemic, but failed to come up with a longer-term rebuilding program. Stocks slumped and bonds rose. Data showed German business confidence fell to record low while virus cases in the region’s biggest economy rose by the most in nearly a week.

A global stock rally built on optimism that infection rates were slowing has faltered this week amid mounting evidence of a deep economic slowdown. With total job losses in the U.S. now exceeding 26 million, investors are focusing on effects of lockdowns and will study earnings for the effects of consumer-credit deterioration.

“The recent price action in global markets has highlighted the fragility of the risk rally in the face of deteriorating global economic data and weak commodity prices,” Valentin Marinov, the head of G10 FX strategy at Credit Agricole CIB in London, wrote in a note to clients. Still, “the recent global monetary and fiscal stimulus measures have put a ‘floor’ under the risky assets,” he said.

Investors are winding up a volatile week that saw countries report mixed success in curbing the virus while President Trump’s evolving public statements and ad hoc policy swings sparked doubts about his leadership in the crisis. On Wednesday, Trump rebuked the first governor to try to reopen his state economy after encouraging state leaders for weeks to push forward toward resuming a normal social and business life.

In China, there was limited reaction to the central bank’s partial roll-over of maturing medium-term funding to banks, at a lower interest rate. Japanese bonds rallied after a Nikkei report that the Bank of Japan may replace its government bond-purchase target to allow for unlimited buying.

These were the main moves in markets:

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