Global stocks higher after Wall Street, oil gains
Global stock markets were mostly higher Thursday after Wall Street rebounded from a losing streak and oil prices surged.
KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, Germany’s DAX gained 0.7 percent to 9,694.28 points and France’s CAC-40 rose 0.7 percent to 4,315.12. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.5 percent to 6,161.63. On Wednesday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.1 percent while the DAX lost 0.1 percent and the CAC-40 was unchanged. On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.
ASIA’S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index shed 1.4 percent to 3,008.42 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.2 percent to 15,749.84. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.3 percent to 20,266.05 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 4,964.10. India’s Sensex declined 0.5 percent to 24,786.55 while Seoul’s Kospi added 0.1 percent to 1,973.89. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Singapore also rose while Taiwan retreated.
WALL STREET: Stocks broke a two-day losing streak as investors bought drug makers and other health care companies. Stocks have wavered as investors await quarterly earnings, and many are bracing for another shaky quarter. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 112.73 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,716.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 21.49 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,066.66. The Nasdaq composite index picked up 76.78 points, or 1.6 percent, to 4,920.72.
FED WATCH: Minutes of the March 15-16 meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s board showed members split over how to respond to slowing global growth. The Fed ended up voting 9-1 to leave its key rate unchanged. Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said the minutes showed a clear split over how fast inflation will rise toward the Fed’s 2 percent target and how badly global weakness may hurt the economy.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “The release of the Fed minutes overnight largely confirmed that there will not be a rate rise in April, and there’s little in the statement or recent U.S. data that pushes strongly for a rate rise in June either,” Angus Nicholson of IG said in a report. That and U.S. Department of Energy data showing a decline in crude oil inventories “have been the dominant forces in Asia today that helped see energy and materials sectors perform strongly across the region.”
PFIZER-ALLERGAN: Biotech drug companies made their biggest gains in almost five years after Pfizer dropped a plan to buy Botox maker Allergan for $160 billion. That led investors to wonder whether Pfizer will look for other possible acquisitions. Pfizer and Allergan walked away from a proposed merger after the U.S. Treasury Department announced rules that made the deal less appealing. Pfizer rose $1.57, or 5 percent, to $32.93, its biggest gain since 2011.
ENERGY STOCKS: Energy companies gained ground as crude prices rose. Chinese oil producer CNOOC Ltd. advanced 2.4 percent. Chevron picked up 2.3 percent and Exxon Mobil added 1.3 percent. Oilfield services companies Halliburton and Baker Hughes also traded higher after the U.S. government sued to block their $34 billion plan to combine.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 9 cents to $37.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract soared $1.86 on Wednesday to close at $37.75. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 27 cents to $40.08 in London. It jumped $1.97 the previous session to $39.84.
CURRENCY: The dollar weakened to 108.58 yen from Wednesday’s 109.16 yen. The euro declined to $1.1387 from $1.1400.