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US stocks open higher at the end of another bruising week

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are off to a solid start on Wall Street Friday but are still headed for another week of declines following a massive pullback two days ago. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% in the first few minutes of trading. It’s still on track for its seventh straight weekly decline after getting close to entering a bear market this week. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7%. All three are headed for drops of 2% or more for the week. Markets rose in Asia overnight after the Chinese central bank delivered a surprise interest rate cut.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street pointed toward gains before the opening bell Friday after a surprise interest rate cut from China lowered, at least temporarily, the anxiety over a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Futures for the Dow Industrial Average climbed 1% and the S&P 500 rose 1.2%. Major benchmarks will need much bigger gains by the close to avoid a seventh straight week of losses for markets shaken by rising interest rates, a global pandemic and war in Ukraine.

Shares in Europe and Asia also rose.

U.S. markets fell closer to bear territory after Thursday’s declines with major benchmarks down around 3% for the week heading into Friday trading.

“This is unlikely to be rock bottom, given the tightening of financial conditions ahead,” said Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank in a report. “Reality may again be harsher than expectations.”

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.2% to 3,134.21 after the Chinese central bank reduced its rate on a five-year loan, which would shore up weak housing sales by cutting mortgage costs. The one-year loan rate that affects commercial borrowers was left unchanged.

That suggests Beijing is “trying to keep easing targeted and that we shouldn’t expect large-scale stimulus,” said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo jumped 1.3% to 26,746.24 after Japanese consumer inflation rose to 2.5% in April from the previous month’s 1.3%. It was the first time since 2008 that inflation was above the central bank’s 2% target.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 2% to 20,533.33 and the Kospi in Seoul advanced 1.7% to 2,636.83. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 1% to 7,139.00.

Investors are watching the Federal Reserve for hints of more interest rate hikes to cool inflation that is running at a four-decade high. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said this week the U.S. central bank might take more aggressive action if price pressures fail to ease.

Traders also are uneasy about China’s economy following official data that showed factory and consumer activity in April were weaker than forecast after Shanghai and other industrial centers shut down to fight coronavirus outbreaks.

In midday trading, the FTSE in London and Frankfurt’s DAX both jumped 1.8%, while the CAC 40 in Paris rose 1.4%.

India’s Sensex rose 2.2% to 53,950.87. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also rose.

Shares of Ross Stores sank more than 23% in premarket after the discount fashion retailer cut its full-year forecast as first-quarter sales and profit fell short of analysts’ projections.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude picked up 46 cents to $112.67 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $2.62 on Thursday to $112.21. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, gained 68 cents to $112.72 per barrel in London. It gained $2.93 the previous session to $112.04.

The dollar edged up to 127.06 yen from Thursday’s 127.74 yen. The euro declined to $1.0574 from $1.0598.

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