Washington, the US capital, is easing its lockdown following two weeks of decreased coronavirus infections, but restrictions remain (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Stock markets rose on Wednesday as more easing of coronavirus lockdowns created a positive buzz on trading floors, analysts said.

Investors on both sides of the Atlantic mostly brushed aside deteriorating China-US relations and the impact of Hong Kong protests, the analysts said.

“The market is reacting positively to coronavirus lockdowns being eased across the globe,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp.

Adding to optimism was a proposal by European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen for a 750-billion-euro ($825-billion) post-virus recovery fund for Europe.

If she can win over sceptical member states to push it through, the stimulus package will be the biggest in EU history, adding to already mind-boggling amounts of stimulus and central bank pledges of support across the planet.

– ‘Another lift’ –

“The announcement gave European shares another lift earlier with the number being proposed larger than what Germany and France previously agreed,” OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned, however, that the package may only come into force in January 2021. Austria and Sweden were already pushing back on the project Wednesday.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones was up more around 140 points in the late morning trade in New York, off opening highs, with the broader S&P 500 index steady.

Simona Gambarini, a markets economist with Capital Economics, dismissed fears that recent rises in US stocks had gone too far.

“Although the S&P 500’s rally over the past two months is remarkable, we don’t think that it reflects excessive optimism among investors. In our view, equities can rise further from here,” she said.

Europe’s key markets were up by well over one percent by the close of trade.

A warning from French statistics bureau INSEE that France’s economy could contract 20 percent in the second quarter on the virus lockdown had little impact.

Tokyo posted gains earlier, while other Asian stocks mostly slid — Hong Kong falling the hardest as police fired pepper-ball rounds on anti-China protesters, with investors fearing the demonstrations could erupt into the worst unrest since last summer.

– ‘Potential consequences’ –

Markets are also fretting over reports that the US has warned it will impose sanctions on Chinese entities and officials if Beijing goes ahead with a sweeping national security law.

“Despite fears of the implications for Hong Kong in the event that the controversial Chinese security bill is passed, markets are understandably aware of the potential consequences for US-China relations,” said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

Concerns about the growing crisis have weighed on the yuan, which has lost almost three percent this year, with observers suggesting it could hit a record low.

– Key figures around 1540 GMT –

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 6,144.25 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.3 percent at 11,657.69 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.8 percent at 4,688.74 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.7 percent at 3,051.08

New York – Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 25,144.93

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 at 21,419.23 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 23,301.36 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,836.80 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 4.1 percent at $35.23 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 5.3 percent at $32.53

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0981 from $1.0982 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.79 yen from 107.54

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2221 from $1.2334

Euro/pound: UP at 89.85 pence from 89.04 pence

SOURCE: AFP

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