Asian stocks set to rise as drug trials, data push Wall Street higher

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Asian stocks were set to climb on Wednesday after another late Wall Street surge in response to upbeat trial results for a COVID-19 treatment and data showing U.S. consumers spent big in May.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, is silhouetted in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The prospects of fresh support from the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan also supported global equity markets.

“It was a trifecta of positives today,” said Jeffrey Carbone, a partner at North Carolina-based Cornerstone Wealth, referring to the U.S. data, drug trials and central bank promises.

The upbeat sentiment weighed of U.S. Treasuries and supported demand for lower-rated southern European debt. Not everyone was in the mood for risk, however, with safe-have gold pushed higher on news of a fresh coronavirus outbreak in China.[GOL/]

“We got potentially more positive news in the fight against COVID-19,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina. “But while COVID is in most people’s minds, in the stock market’s view it is all about reopening and the strong data suggest the recovery is happening and faster than most expected.”

At the beginning of his two-day testimony before Congress, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said a full recovery was unlikely until the public is confident the disease had been contained.

In Asia, Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures were up 0.5%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures were up 0.2% but down 0.6% from the underlying index’s Tuesday close.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures were down 0.3%.

U.S. retail sales jumped a record 17.7% in May, blowing past the 8% increase analysts expected and supporting views the U.S. recession might be drawing to an end.

Also cheering investors were trial results showing dexamethasone, a cheap and widely used steroid, reduced death rates by about one-third among the most severely ill COVID-19 patients.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.0%, the S&P 500 gained 1.9% and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.8%. That followed a broad 3% rally in major European bourses.

The MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 2.2%.

News elsewhere contributed to the bullish sentiment.

Germany’s monthly ZEW investor sentiment survey showed investors are confident that Europe’s largest economy will be over the worst of the coronavirus impact by the end of the European summer.

The dollar was mostly stronger, with the euro down 0.55% to $1.126 and the Japanese yen up 0.01% at 107.32.

The British pound rose on unemployment numbers that were not as bad as feared and friendlier Brexit talks.[GBP/]

The BOJ increased its lending packages for cash-strapped firms to $1 trillion from about $700 billion, while keeping rates steady, sticking to its view that the Japanese economy will gradually recover from the pandemic.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury notes rose 4.7 basis points to 0.7495%.

German, French, Dutch and other core yields also rose. Riskier Italian yields fell to their lowest level since the end of March, and the iTraxx European crossover index, which reflects the cost of insuring against junk-rated corporate bond defaults, fell to its lowest level in six days. [GVD/EUR]

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Sam Holmes