By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar strengthened and a gauge of global stocks jumped, lifted by an unexpected rebound in U.S. manufacturing that helped temper fears that caused stocks overnight in Asia to plunge on the potential impact of the coronavirus in China.
Gold fell more than 1%, retreating from a four-week high, as China’s efforts to protect its economy from the virus and the injection of 1.2 trillion yuan ($174 billion) worth of liquidity into the markets helped stem inflows into safe-haven assets.
Bond yields rose, while the Japanese yen and Swiss franc retreated as risk sentiment improved despite a rising infection rate and death toll from the coronavirus outbreak.
Deaths rose to 361 as of Sunday, up 57 from the previous day, China’s National Health Commission said. All fatalities have occurred in China, with the exception of a Chinese man who died in the Philippines after traveling from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Oil prices fell, however, over concerns about energy demand in China, though the possibility of deeper crude output cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies offered some price support.
Shares in China plunged during the first day of trading since China closed equity, currency and bond markets on Jan. 23 for the Lunar New Year, a break that was extended by the government because of the coronavirus.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 7.7%, slicing $420 billion in value from the index, and the yuan opened at its weakest level of 2020, sliding past 7 per dollar.
Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1% to the lowest since November and Australia’s benchmark index fell 1.3%.
But shares edged higher in Europe on relief the UK finally exited the European Union, while U.S. stocks initially surged more than 1% as factory activity unexpectedly rebounded in January after contracting for five straight months amid a surge in new orders.
“Traders are looking for value where they can,” said Karl Schamotta, chief market strategist at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.
“A large part of what we’re seeing in the market today is bargain-hunting in anticipation of a return to stimulus from the Chinese government,” he said.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.30% and its emerging market index lost 0.21%.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.31%, while the major Wall Street indexes gained in a broad rally.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 184.83 points, or 0.65%, to 28,440.86. The S&P 500 gained 22.72 points, or 0.70%, to 3,248.24 and the Nasdaq Composite added 108.56 points, or 1.19%, to 9,259.50.
The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of U.S. factory activity increased to 50.9 last month, the highest level since July, from an upwardly revised 47.8 in December.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for 11% of the U.S. economy.
The pound slid after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out tough terms for EU talks, rekindling fears Britain would reach the end of an 11-month transition period without reaching a trade deal.[GBP/]
Sterling traded at $1.3, down 1.51% on the day and the dollar index rose 0.42%.
The euro fell 0.33% to $1.1056, while the yen weakened 0.17% versus the greenback at 108.59 per dollar.
Gold, which posted its best month in five in January, slid 0.81% to $1,576.80 an ounce. Yields on U.S. debt came off lows.
Oil prices fell. Brent crude slid $1.26 to $55.36 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 98
cents to $50.58 a barrel.
(Reporting by Herbert Lash, additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)