By Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch
AFP via Getty Images
European stocks climbed on Friday, as investors brushed aside poor China growth data to focus on a potentially promising treatment for coronavirus and continued hopes for re-opening of major economies.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP +0.18% climbed 2.5% to 333.27, while the German /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +0.21% rose 2.8%, the French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 +0.94% gained 2.7% and the FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.50% added 2.5%.
Wall Street also indicated a higher start for trading later. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 +1.53% shot up over 600 points, or 2.8%, while S&P 500 futures /zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed ES00 +1.35% and Nasdaq-100 futures /zigman2/quotes/210219788/delayed NQ00 +1.05% advanced 2.7% and 1.8%, respectively.
Gains came after researchers at University of Chicago Medicine cited “rapid recoveries” in 125 COVID-19 patients taking Gilead’s /zigman2/quotes/210293917/composite GILD -0.15% experimental drug remdesivir as part of a clinical trial, according to a report.
Investors seized on signs of potential progress over a treatment for the potentially fatal illness, as well as guidelines announced by President Donald Trump to reopen the U.S. economy, though he didn’t indicate a clear time frame. The U.S. appears to be at the center of the worst outbreak as Europe’s infections slow and some countries have started relaxing restrictions.
Markets appeared to be overlooking China data showing a 6.8% plunge in first-quarter growth, the first contraction on record due to the pandemic. The country was at the epicenter of the initial outbreak late last year.
Most sectors were in the black, with drugmakers out in front. Shares of Stoxx heavyweight Roche Holding AG /zigman2/quotes/206324342/delayed CH:ROG -0.28% rose nearly 2% after the Swiss group said it was developing a new serology test to detect antibodies in patients exposed to the coronavirus.
Shares of Novartis AG /zigman2/quotes/203286410/delayed CH:NOVN -0.16% , AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.79% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN -1.14% , Sanofi SA /zigman2/quotes/201967021/composite SNY +0.93% and Novo Nordisk /zigman2/quotes/207193277/delayed DK:NOVO.B +0.24% were all up over 1%.
Shares of Nokia Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207421390/composite NOK -28.47% /zigman2/quotes/203672305/delayed FI:NOKIA -9.43% climbed over 4%, continuing gains from Thursday after Reuters reported that the Finnish telecommunications group had hired Citigroup to defend it from a hostile takeover bid. A Nokia spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Apparel makers were also on the rise, with shares of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB /zigman2/quotes/208522175/delayed SE:HM.B +1.32% , Hugo Boss AG /zigman2/quotes/205761551/delayed DE:BOSS -1.69% and luxury-goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy Luis Vuitton SE /zigman2/quotes/201350549/delayed FR:MC +1.58% all up 5% or more.