Asian stock markets gained Monday after Japan's central bank promised more asset purchases to shore up financial markets and more governments prepared to revive struggling economies by reopening businesses.
Tokyo's benchmark surged 2.8% and Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney also gained.
Investors are looking ahead to meetings of U.S. and European central bankers this week for additional measures to reverse the deepest global slump since the 1930s. That comes amid mounting evidence the coronavirus pandemic's economic damage is even worse than expected.
The Bank of Japan said it will buy an additional 15 trillion yen ($140 billion) of commercial paper and bank loans. That is a "significant increase from the timid 2 trillion yen" in purchases announced in March, said Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics in a report. The bank also raised its ceiling on purchases of government debt.
Elsewhere, the U.S. Federal Reserve is more likely to announce it will wait to see the impact of earlier stimulus before taking more action, Hayaki Narita of Mizuho Bank said in a report. The European Central Bank "will likely keep its options for easing open."
Also Monday, China's government reported profits at major industrial companies shrank 34.9% in March over a year earlier. That was an improvement over the 38.3% decline in January and February, but analysts said a full recovery is a long way off.
This week's other potentially market-moving events include data from the United States, China, Japan, Germany and France on inflation, trade, industrial activity and retail spending.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.7% to 2,827.50 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose to 19,803.99. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 1.8% to 24,270.61.
In Seoul, the Kospi was 2.1% higher at 1,928.23. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.7% to 5,278.30 and India's Sensex opened up 2% at 31,970.09. Singapore advanced 1.3% and Bangkok was up 0.6%.
Investors appear to be looking past the outbreak to figure out which companies can survive and prosper after conditions improve.
China, where the pandemic began in December, has reopened factories and other businesses after numbers of new cases declined.
Spain plans to start easing restrictions Sunday and Italy on May 4. France will announce its plans next month.
President Donald Trump, campaigning for re-election, is pressing state governors to ease anti-disease controls as early as possible.
Some governors are lifting shutdown orders despite warnings that could cause a surge in infections. Others including Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York say they want a bigger decline in new cases before rolling back curbs.
"The hope that peak virus is upon us has lifted financial markets modestly in Asia," said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report. "The hopes that even a partial return to regular economic activity begins, to draw a line under the economic carnage wrought by the pandemic, should see markets such as equities outperform this week."
Wall Street ended last week higher after Trump signed legislation to provide an additional $500 billion in virus aid, including loans to small businesses.
U.S. government data showed an unexpectedly sharp 14.4% drop in durable goods orders.
That added to grim numbers that are denting investor sentiment, which economists have warned is far too optimistic.
The S&P 500 Index gained 1.4% to 2,836.74. The U.S. benchmark is down 16.2% from its February record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1% to 23,775.25. The Nasdaq composite added 1.7% to 8,634.52.
"Investors have written off 2020 as a shocker and are looking more intently into the landscape in 2021," Chris Weston of Pepperstone said in a report.
They are due to get more indicators how that future might develop when companies including Exxon, Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing and McDonald's start reporting quarterly results this week.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery lost $1.76 cents to $15.20 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 2.7% on Friday to settle at $16.94. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 88 cents to $23.93 per barrel in London. It added 0.5% the previous session to $21.44 per barrel.
The dollar declined to 107.27 yen from Friday's 107.49 yen. The euro gained to $1.0847 from $1.0823.
In a manic week full of previously unthinkable market moves, Wall Street ended Friday with one reminiscent of what things were like before the coronavirus outbreak upended everything.
The S&P 500 glided to a gain of 1.4%, with Apple, Microsoft and other technology stocks leading the way, as they did so many times before the economy shut down in hopes of slowing the spread of the outbreak. The bond market was quiet, while crude prices climbed again.
The gains offered a soothing coda for a wild week, which began with Monday's astonishing plummet for oil and carried through Thursday's sudden disappearance of a morning stock rally, as markets pinballed from fear to hope and back again.
"The market sort of feels like Dorothy coming to the crossroads and has yet to meet the scarecrow to tell her which way to go," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA.
The S&P 500 still lost 1.3% for the week as worries about the economic damage dealt by the coronavirus outbreak outweighed hopes that businesses could soon reopen. That snapped the first two-week winning streak for the S&P 500 since it began selling off in February.
Reports piled higher through the week showing the pandemic is bludgeoning the economy even more than economists had feared. Roughly one in six U.S. workers has filed for unemployment benefits over the last five weeks.
The damage is so severe that a heavily divided Congress has reached bipartisan agreement on massive support for the economy. President Donald Trump signed a bill Friday to provide nearly $500 billion more, including loans for small businesses and aid for hospitals.
The big question for markets is when the economy can reopen, said Mike Zigmont, head of trading and research at Harvest Volatility Management. Businesses can get by for a few months on government help, he said, but if the shutdown drags on longer they could be permanently damaged.
Many investors have essentially agreed to swallow horrific corporate profits and economic data in upcoming months, and they're turning their focus to who can survive and eventually grow their profits in the future.
Next week will be one of the busiest of this earnings season, with more than 150 companies in the S&P 500 reporting how much they made during the first three months of the year. Many companies have been pulling their profit forecasts entirely for 2020 given all the uncertainty, and Wall Street is slashing its own estimates.
"I don't really think that's added to the concern of investors because they assume that companies will be doing a lot of writing down in this bad year so that 2021 could look even better," said CFRA's Stovall.
The S&P 500 added 38.94 points to 2,836.74. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 260.01, or 1.1%, to 23,775.25, and the Nasdaq composite added 139.77, or 1.7%, to 8,634.52.
Gains for big tech stocks led the way. Tech makes up an outsized portion of the S&P 500 following years of market dominance. And because changes in market value dictate the index's moves, the performance of the biggest stocks can have a disproportionate effect.
Stocks have been generally rallying since late March on promises for massive aid from Congress and the Federal Reserve, along with more recent hopes that parts of the economy may be close to reopening. In Georgia, some businesses began welcoming back customers on Friday after the governor eased a monthlong shutdown.
But many professional investors have been skeptical of the market's recent rally. They say there's still too much uncertainty about how long the recession will last and that attempts to reopen the economy could trigger more waves of infections if they're premature.
In a demonstration of how hungry the market is for a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, the S&P 500 erased a rally of more than 1% in a span of seconds on Thursday following a discouraging report about a potential drug treatment. The Financial Times said a Chinese study of the drug found no positive effect, citing data published accidentally by the World Health Organization, though the company behind the drug said the data represented "inappropriate characterizations" of the study.
Through all the volatility, many investors saving for retirement have been holding steady. They're calling in for advice much more often, but the majority of savers with 401(k) accounts at Fidelity did not pull back on their contributions during the quarter.
The S&P 500 is down 16.2% from its record in February, though it's more than halved its loss since late March.
The price of a barrel of U.S. oil to be delivered in June rose 2.7% to settle at $16.94. It had sunk as low as $6.50 earlier this week on worries that storage tanks are close to topping out amid a collapse in demand. Worries about extra oil with nowhere to go sent prices in one corner of the U.S. oil market below zero on Monday.
Brent crude, the international standard, rose 0.5% to $21.44 per barrel.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 0.60% from 0.61% late Thursday. Yields tend to fall when investors are downgrading their expectations for the economy and inflation.
European and Asian stock markets fell.
Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors Corp. said Friday it expects 26 billion yen ($240 million) in losses for the fiscal year through next March, as sales plunge because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi, allied with Nissan Motor Co., announced the revision to its earnings projection. The maker of the Pajero sports utility vehicle earlier forecast a profit of 5 billion yen ($46 million).
It revised its sales projection to 2.27 trillion yen ($21 billion), down from 2.45 trillion yen ($23 billion).
Demand for autos has plunged because of the outbreak at a far greater pace than the automaker had expected, despite cost-cutting efforts, it said in a statement.
Mitsubishi's dismal projection could foreshadow similar news from automakers around the world. Production at auto plants has been halted or scaled back and sales have sputtered.
The auto industry is the pillar of Japan's economy and the fallout is expected to be great, with the world's third largest economy possibly headed to a recession.
Mitsubishi Motors' three-way alliance with Nissan and Renault SA of France was forged by Carlos Ghosn, who led it until his arrest over financial misconduct allegations in Tokyo in 2018. While awaiting trial, Ghosn skipped bail and fled to Lebanon late last year.
U.S. oil prices crashed to the negative territory for the first time in history on Monday, fueled by pandemic-related demand shock and oversupply fears.
The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for May delivery shed 55.9 U.S. dollars, or over 305 percent, to settle at -37.63 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, implying that producers would pay buyers to take oil off their hands.
It marks the first time an oil futures contract has traded negative in history, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The May contract expires on Tuesday.
The June WTI contract fell more than 18 percent to 20.43 per barrel. The global benchmark Brent crude for June delivery decreased 2.51 dollars to close at 25.57 dollars a barrel on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Traders scrambled to unload positions ahead of the contract's expiration, contributing to the historic drop, experts noted.
"We attribute the WTI price weakness to the imminent expiry of the May contract tomorrow and the low trading volume that comes with it," Giovanni Staunovo, a commodity analyst at UBS Global Wealth Management, told Xinhua on Monday.
Weaker demand tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a potential supply glut is a more severe problem, according to analysts.
"The decline in more liquid futures contracts reflects the broader problem we have in the oil market -- severe oversupply in 2Q," said Staunovo.
Global oil demand is expected to fall by a record 9.3 million barrels a day (b/d) year-on-year in 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned in its newly-released monthly report.
"The impact of containment measures in 187 countries and territories has been to bring mobility almost to a halt," the IEA said, adding demand in April is estimated to be 29 million b/d lower than a year ago, down to a level last seen in 1995.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has dealt a shock to the global economy with unprecedented speed. Following are developments Friday related to the global economy, the work place and the spread of the virus.
CENTRAL BANKS AND GOVERNMENT: The coronavirus pandemic has skewered almost all economic models.
— Finland has slashed growth expectations. After projecting a 1% GDP expansion in 2020 GDP late last year, it now anticipates a contraction of at least 5.5%. Finnish economists say that retreat could hit 12% if lockdowns continue for another six months.
SOCIAL MEDIA DISTANCING: Social media companies have actively sought to quash misinformation that has led to dangerous behavior. This while the pandemic disrupts internal operations across the tech sector.
— Facebook employees will work remotely until at least the end of May. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that employees who feel they can't return to offices will be allowed to work remotely through at least the summer.
— Digital news publisher Vox Media, which is furloughing about 100 people, or 9% of its staff, without pay from May to July, and is cutting pay temporarily between 15% and 25% for those who earn at least $130,000. Salaries for both its CEO and president will be cut in half. The company, which publishes New York magazine and blogs including Vox, Eater and SB Nation, expects revenue declines in the tens of millions.
RETAIL PAIN: Darkened storefronts tell the story of what has happened to the retail sector and emerging economic data paints an even darker picture.
— In a letter to Congress, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which counts among members Best Buy, Walmart and The Gap, asked Congress to allow furloughed and laid off retail workers to accept part-time work shifts without a reduction in state unemployment benefits.
— Walmart, meanwhile, says it plans to hire another 50,000 workers to meet surging demand for essentials after reaching its goal to add 150,000 new workers six weeks ahead of schedule. The nation's largest private employer announced its hiring plans in mid-March and expected to complete the hiring at the end of May.
It says it received more than one million applicants for the mostly temporary or part-time jobs that could become permanent. It worked with more than 70 companies in the hospitality, restaurant and retail industry that have furloughed workers.
FEW FARE REFUNDS: U.S. airlines are splitting $25 billion in government aid payroll to pay workers and avoid massive layoffs as the industry has been hammered by the outbreak. But only two are offering refunds for passengers who cancel a ticket during the virus pandemic, according to a group of Senate Democrats who complained about airlines issuing travel vouchers instead.
The senators said Friday that airlines could be holding on to more than $10 billion by offering vouchers instead of paying refunds. Discount carriers Allegiant Air and Spirit Airlines said they offer refunds when the passengers cancel bookings. Hawaiian Airlines said it offers a refund if a passenger cancels first and the airline later drops the flight. The rest, including the biggest carriers — Delta, American, United and Southwest — only offer cash refunds when the airline cancels a flight, which is required by federal regulations, the nine senators said.
— Boeing suffered another setback over its 737 Max on Friday, as General Electric Co.'s aircraft-leasing arm canceled an order for 69 of the planes, which have been grounded for more than a year after two crashes. GE Capital Aviation Services referred to less need for planes by airline customers. Nearly two-thirds of the world's passenger planes are grounded because of a sharp drop in travel during the coronavirus pandemic, and Boeing removed about 300 Max jets from its order book last month.
Boeing also said it will resume production Monday at facilities near Philadelphia that produce military helicopters after a two-week shutdown due to the coronavirus. The announcement came a day after Boeing said it will resume production at commercial jet-assembly plants in the Seattle area, which shut down after some workers tested positive for the virus.
THE CAR BIZ: Manufacturing has come to a standstill and it is unknown when major industrial players will be able to restart plants.
— Ford Motor Co. now expects to post a $2 billion first-quarter loss. The automaker also floated $8 billion in bonds on Friday at interest rates ranging from 8.5% per year to 9.625%. They mature from 2023 to 2030. The company is raising cash to make sure it gets through the virus crisis. Ford's U.S. factories have been shut down for about four weeks, cutting off the company's main source of revenue. It is hoping to restart factories in the second quarter.
WORK IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC: The outbreak has disrupted the labor force in unprecedented ways, damaging livelihoods as well as supply chains.
— Four employees tied to a Tyson Foods poultry plant in southwest Georgia have died of complications from COVID-19. Three of the employees worked at a plant in Camilla, while the fourth person worked in a supporting job outside the plant, said spokesman Gary Mickelson. Two other Tyson Foods workers have died from the virus at its plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, he said.
MARKETS: Stocks around the world rose on Friday as investors latched onto strands of hope about progress in the fight against the coronavirus.
PANTRY KING: Procter & Gamble posted its biggest revenue spike in decades Friday. The company makes Bounty paper towels, Charmin tissue and other household goods suddenly in high demand as billions of people shelter at home.
First quarter organic sales jumped 10% in the U.S., and 6% globally.