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World shares jump as Chinese leaders pledge help for economy

AP Business Writer

World stocks advanced Friday after Chinese leaders pledged to do more to support the slowing economy as the country weathers its worst outbreaks of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Germany’s DAX gained 1% to 14,120.47 while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.9% to 6,567.01. Britain’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.5% to 7,547.01. The future for the S&P 500 was 0.3% lower while the Dow was almost unchanged.

Chinese state media reported that the ruling Communist Party’s powerful Politburo agreed at a meeting Friday to step up efforts to boost growth while also curbing coronavirus outbreaks.

The party’s COVID-zero policies have put pressure on President Xi Jinping and other leaders to counter the blow to the economy from shutdowns aimed at vanquishing the virus. Such restrictions are affecting the world’s second-largest economy through disruptions in shipments, manufacturing and other business activity.

“It is very important to do a good job of economic work and to ensure and improve people’s livelihood,” the official Xinhua News Agency said in reporting the meeting.

The report indicated no change in the leaders’ strategy for fighting outbreaks.

But it said the meeting agreed on adjusting policies to keep the economy, which was slowing even before the latest waves of coronavirus infections, “operating in a reasonable range” and to speed up implementation of tax rebates and reductions, ensure enough energy supplies and help industries, small and medium-size businesses and families severely affected by the pandemic.

“China’s Politburo meeting hits many of the right notes for the market: Internet platforms can grow; supply chain disruptions are addressed; SMEs will get more help,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.

The message was more forthright than earlier ones, he said, but China “needs to follow up with actual policy. I cannot see anything new in the property market and no direct consumption support.”

The Shanghai Composite index gained 2.4% to 3,047.06 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index surged 4.1% to 21,101.27.

Tokyo was closed for a holiday, the first of several in Japan’s coming “Golden Week.”

In Seoul, the Kospi added 1% to 2,695.05, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.1% to 7,435.00.

The price of U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 32 cents to $105.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It jumped $3.34 to 105.36 per barrel on Thursday.

Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oils, gained 73 cents to $107.99.

After hours on Thursday, SEC filings showed Elon Musk sold 4.4 million shares of Tesla stock worth roughly $4 billion, most likely to help fund his purchase of Twitter.

Tesla shares closed Thursday down slightly at $877.51. They are down 17% so far this year.

Major stock indexes on Wall Street notched their biggest gains in more than six weeks Thursday, as technology companies clawed back some of the ground they had lost recently.

The S&P 500 rose 2.5% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.8%. The Nasdaq picked up 3.1%, while the Russell 2000 added 1.8%.

This week has been turbulent as investors review a heavy batch of corporate earnings from major tech companies, industrial firms and retailers. Big Tech and communications companies have driven much of the volatility as their pricey stock values have more weight.

Supply chain issues have been crimping business operations in many industries throughout the recovery from the pandemic and Russia’s war against Ukraine has worsened increases for energy and key food commodity prices.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to aggressively hike rates as it steps up its fight against inflation. The chair of the Fed has indicated the central bank may hike short-term interest rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings, starting next week. It has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the U.S. economy shrank last quarter for the first time since the pandemic recession struck two years ago. But the report showed consumers and businesses kept spending, despite rising prices suggesting demand is resilient.

Investors will get another update Friday on spending, a barometer for the economy as everything from food to clothing and gas becomes more expensive, when the Commerce Department releases its personal income and spending report for March.

In currency dealings, the dollar bought 130.13 Japanese yen, down from 130.87 yen. The euro rose to $1.0570 from $1.0536.

Article Topic Follows: AP National Business

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