Stocks rose on Friday after US president Donald Trump told governors that they could choose to lift coronavirus restrictions in 14-day phases, giving investors hope that the world’s largest economy would begin to reopen.
“America wants to be open and Americans want to be open,” Trump said late on Thursday. “A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution.”
Investors were also buoyed by promising reports about antiviral drug Remdesivir, which is being used to treat coronavirus patients in a University of Chicago clinical trial.
Shares in Gilead Sciences (GILD), which makes Remdesivir, climbed by as much as 9%, even as analysts warned that the reports were largely anecdotal and come from an uncontrolled study.
Though the set of non-binding guidelines unveiled by Trump suggested that the US would return to work slowly over the course of several weeks and months, they give markets some sort of a roadmap as to how lockdowns could be eased across the country.
The strong opening in Europe followed gains for stocks in Asia, which were buoyed by better-than-expected economic data from China.
The Chinese economy contracted by 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020. While it was the worst performance in decades, the decline was not as stark as some analysts had forecast.
“There was a hell of a lot in play at the start of Friday’s European session, one that saw investors choose to take a positive look at the barrage of headlines they received overnight,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex.
Expectations of a larger decline in China gave investors a “paper-thin reason to take a chirpy view of the data,” he said.