Global shares rise on hopes for economies’ gradual reopening

Global shares are higher, with Europe tracking gains in Asia despite news that the German economy fell into recession in the first quarter of the year amid the coronavirus pandemic

TOKYO —
Global shares rose Monday, with Europe tracking gains in Asia despite news that the German economy fell into recession in the first quarter of the year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

France’s CAC 40 gained 0.8% in early trading to 4,479.60, while Germany‘s DAX jumped 1.2% to 11,206.26. British markets were closed for a bank holiday. U.S. markets will be closed for Memorial Day.

Germany joined other major economies in logging its worst downturn since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, as exports and consumer spending took a hit from shutdowns and other disruptions resulting from the pandemic.

Its economy contracted 2.2% in January-March from a year earlier, the Federal Statistical Office said. It said investments in the engineering sector, construction and public spending helped to prevent an even bigger downturn.

Since Germany’s economy dipped 0.1% in the last quarter of 2019, the country has entered what is known as a “technical recession.”

The mood was upbeat, also, in Asia, where Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 added 1.7% to finish at 20,741.65 ahead of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement that the state of emergency that still was in effect for Tokyo and several other areas was ending as outbreaks appeared to be subsiding.

“We have drawn the attention of the world,” Abe said. “We will take a strong step forward.”

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.2% to 1,994.60 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 2.2% to 5,615.60.

Shares in Hong Kong fell initially after police used tear gas to quell weekend protests over a proposed national security bill for the former British colony. By the end of the day, but recouped earlier losses to be little changed. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng inched up less than 0.1% to 22,952.24. The Shanghai Composite picked up 0.2% to 2,817.97.

The protests in Hong Kong in response to legislation presented to China’s National People’s Congress, which is now meeting in Beijing, were the largest in months despite bans on large gathering meant to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

The revival of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests that rocked the city for much of 2019 raises the likelihood of more tensions between Beijing and Washington over China’s efforts to exert more control over the semi-autonomous territory.

“With more riots in the street amid the knockdown effects of COVID-19 and a possible exodus of jobs from the city’s financial center, surely things will get much worse before better,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.

Japan has followed South Korea, China and several other Asian countries in relaxing precautions as the pace of new coronavirus infections has ebbed.

Abe said, however, that the nation needs to adopt “new thinking” for a lifestyle that keeps social distancing restrictions to avoid contagion but will also allow an economic recovery. He urged people to continue to fear the virus, wear masks and wash hands regularly.

People are still being requested to avoid mingling in crowds. Concerts will be allowed with up to 100 people in the audience at first. The professional baseball season will kick off next month with no spectators in the stands.

Japan has reported about 820 deaths and more than 16,000 cases, relatively few compared to hard-hit nations like the U.S.

In other trading Monday, benchmark U.S. crude oil picked up 9 cents to $33.34 a barrel. It fell 2%, or 67 cents, to $33.25 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 11 cents to $35.02 a barrel.

Crude oil started the year at about $60 a barrel and then plummeted as demand sank due to widespread travel and business shutdowns related to the coronavirus.

The U.S. dollar inched up to 107.69 Japanese yen from 107.63 yen late Friday. The euro fell to $1.0884 from $1.0901.

———

Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js