Coronavirus: Looser rules lift stocks after worst week since mid-March

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
People walk on the beach in a seaside town in Grosseto in Tuscany, Italy as the government eased restrictions. (Carlo Bressan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

European markets rose on Monday after their worst week since mid-March, with looser coronavirus restrictions boosting stocks.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 (^STOXX) index was trading 1.8% higher at around 8.30am in London. Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) and France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) both jumped 2.1%, while in Germany the DAX (^GDAXI) was up 2.5%.

“Equities and oil are higher as investors cautiously welcome signs lockdowns are ending, but markets remain in this tug-of-war pattern where we simply don’t know whether the damage will be a lot worse than feared or the recovery will be much swifter,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

The bounce comes after most leading indices in Europe saw their steepest weekly losses in two months last week amid fears over bleak economic data and higher infection rates in some countries. The Stoxx 600 had slid 3.8%.

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Further easing of curbs on economic activity in areas hit particularly hard by the virus pushed stocks higher on Monday. Italy is allowing shops, restaurants and hair salons to reopen their doors this week. Parts of Spain also eased restrictions as its daily death toll fell below 100 for the first time in two months.

Oil prices have also edged higher with output curbed by producers and signs of higher demand, linked to easing of curbs on movement and trade. The lift to oil boosted energy stocks Total, BP and Royal Dutch Shell, which marked some of the highest gains in early trading.

Stocks rose overnight in Asia too. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225), South Korea’s KOSPI (^KOSPI) and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong (^HSI) all rose 0.5%. China’s Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) close 0.2% higher.

Futures were pointing to a rise on the open in the US later on Monday. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) and Dow Jones futures (YM=F) were both trading 1.5% higher and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were 1.4% higher at around 4am eastern time.

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