By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch
European stocks advanced on Thursday, recovering some lost ground as leaders take tentative steps to reopen economies hammered by the coronavirus.
After suffering its biggest single-day loss in nearly three weeks on Wednesday, the Stoxx Europe 600 /zigman2/quotes/210599654/delayed XX:SXXP -1.01% rose 0.9%.
The German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX -1.44% and French CAC 40 /zigman2/quotes/210597958/delayed FR:PX1 -1.22% also advanced, while weakness from big oil producers weighed on the U.K. FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.97% .
Beaten-up stocks, including movie theater chain Cineworld Group /zigman2/quotes/206525056/delayed UK:CINE +1.23% and cruise-ship operator Carnival /zigman2/quotes/210414141/delayed UK:CCL -1.65% , surged in early trade.
Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 -0.32% rose 115 points.
Wednesday featured an array of disappointing economic data, including the worst-ever decline in U.S. retail sales, as major banks missed profit estimates on a big jump in loan-loss provisions.
In the U.K., consumer spending slumped 6% year-over-year in March, according to an estimate from Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation’s credit and debit card transactions.
Thursday’s session will include the latest report on U.S. jobless claims. Economists estimate an additional 5 million jobless workers applied for benefits in the seven-day period that ended April 11, swelling the ranks of the newly unemployed in the past month to 22 million.
Europe, which was hit with the coronavirus earlier than the U.S., continues to announce plans for small reopenings. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said small stores will reopen on Monday and some schools will restart in May. U.S. President Donald Trump is due on Thursday to announce guidelines to begin the process of reopening the country.
With total confirmed coronavirus cases now over 2 million, they have doubled in just the last 13 days. Worldwide case growth did rise a bit to 4.2% from 3.1%, though that is still slower than the rapid 8.4% growth two weeks ago.
Of stocks in the spotlight, easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +0.90% shares rose 5%. The budget airline reported a 10.2% jump in airline revenue per seat at constant currency for the six months ending March 31.
Its entire fleet has been grounded since March 30, and easyJet said it could burn up to £3 billion in cash if the shutdown lasts nine months.
Électricité de France shares /zigman2/quotes/201783867/delayed FR:EDF -0.60% slumped 5%, after saying electricity consumption could potentially fall to 20% of usual levels.