Shares rise on talk of more relief for US as job losses soar

Global shares are higher ahead of a U.S. report that is expected to show 21 million jobs were lost in April as the pandemic took hold

TOKYO —
Global shares rose Friday ahead of a U.S. report that is expected to show 21 million jobs were lost in April as pandemic shutdowns took hold.

Hopes are rising for another round of relief for stricken American businesses even as the recession deepens. Democratic calls for further government intervention will likely intensify Friday with the release of the April unemployment numbers.

France’s CAC 40 rose 0.6% in early trading to 4,527.47, while Germany’s DAX added 0.7% to 10,835.90. Trading was closed in Britain for a holiday. U.S. shares were set for gains, with the future for the Dow industrials up 0.8% at 24,031.0. S&P 500 futures gained 0.8% to 2,903.12

Analysts expect the U.S. government to report the worst set of job numbers since record-keeping began in 1948, with the unemployment rate for April perhaps reaching 16% or more, according to economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet.

If 21 million jobs are lost as expected, that would mean nearly all the job growth in the 11 years since the Great Recession ended vanished in one month.

But after months of market swings, investors appeared to be factoring that expectation in and focusing on hopes that reopening economies in the U.S. and elsewhere might keep the downturn short.

“Plenty of dark clouds out there, but we have gone through pretty tempestuous economic times before, and this, too, shall pass,” Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp, said in a report.

“This is a policy-induced downturn, and the speed and structure of the recovery could track a different path from previous recessions. The bounce-back will be much quicker.”

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 2.6% to 20,179.09, helped partly by reports the ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to offer subsidies to help small and medium-size businesses cover their rent. Although Japan’s state of emergency involves only voluntary, partial shutdowns and requests for social distancing, the economy was already sinking into recession even before the pandemic hit, devastating demand.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi added 0.9% to 1,945.82. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.5% to 5,391.10. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1% to 24,230.17, while the Shanghai Composite picked up 0.8% to 24,230.17.

A Chinese state media report saying that top trade negotiators for Beijing and Washington held a phone conversation and agreed on cooperation on economic and public health issues and on working to implement a trade deal helped soothe concerns over that friction is building between the two biggest economies.

Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke Friday morning Beijing time, the Xinhua News Agency said.

It said the two sides agreed to “strive for positive outcomes” and “maintain communication and coordination.”

Recent comments by President Donald Trump had revived worries that antagonisms over the pandemic might spoil progress on a trade deal that helped establish a truce in the two countries’ tariffs war.

Investors are cautiously looking ahead to data expected next week, including those that gauge economic growth in Great Britain, China and Malaysia.

Major Japanese companies have begun reporting their financial results. Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Sony Corp. are due to release earnings next week as they struggle to cope with production halts and trade obstacles. Nintendo Co. reported higher profits earlier this week as people stayed home and turned to playing games.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil added $1.17 to $24.72 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 44 cents, or 1.8%, to $23.55 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained 94 cents to $30.40 a barrel.

The dollar rose to 106.32 Japanese yen from 106.28 yen on Thursday. The euro edged up to $1.0824 from $1.0833.

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AP Business Writer Joe McDonald contributed.