TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares advanced Friday on signs of improvement in China’s economy after it reopened from its pandemic shutdowns.
Benchmarks in Europe opened higher following an upbeat session Friday in Asia.
Factory output rose in April as China’s virus-battered economy reopened but job losses depressed consumer spending, a key driver of growth, challenging the ruling Communist Party’s push to revive normal activity.
Investment in factories and other fixed assets also improved as businesses reopened after China’s deepest economic slump since at least the 1960s, official data showed Friday.
With attention focused for now on the positive, France's CAC 40 gained 1.1% in early trading to 4,318.20, while Germany's DAX was up 1.3% at 10,466.67. Britain's FTSE 100 gained 1.3% to 5,815.95. U.S. shares were also set to climb, with Dow futures up 0.4% at 23,620.0. S&P 500 futures rose 0.3% to 2,855.88.
China, where the pandemic began in December, was the first economy to shut down to fight the virus and the first to start reopening in March. Automakers and some other manufacturers say production is back to normal, but retailing and other industries are struggling.
The signs of progress in getting growth back on track in the world’s second biggest economy helped to counter worries over possible future waves of coronavirus outbreaks, though comments by President Donald Trump suggest a risk of another flare up in trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
“Bright spots in the markets and the economy should not breed complacency about being out of the woods,” Riki Ogawa of Mizuho Bank said. “Fact is, even as economies prepare to emerge from varying degrees of lockdown, restoration of ‘normalcy’ is a much longer road.”
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 recouped earlier losses to finish at 20,037.47, up 0.6%. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.1% to 1,927.28 Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 1.4% to 5,404.80. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.1% to 23,799.42, while the Shanghai Composite inched down less than 0.1% to 2,868.46.
Shares fell in India but rose in Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.
Japan on Friday ended its state of emergency for many regions less affected by COVID-19 outbreaks. It is gradually easing requests for people to stay home and for some businesses to stay closed despite rising numbers of cases overall.
The Keidanren, which represents more than 1,000 Japanese companies and regional economic groups, released guidelines for safer work, including instructions on having office workers coming into the office just three days each week to minimize commutes, and adapting workplaces for social distancing.
The signs of recovery in China weren't as strong as some had hoped, as weak overseas demand is expected to persist, hurting Chinese manufacturing and exports.
“We are facing huge employment pressures and companies are suffering from many difficulties with production and management. It is fair to say there are plenty of risks and challenges ahead," said Liu Aihua, a spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics.
Recently, worries about renewed U.S.-China tensions have also weighed on markets. A bruising trade war between the two had dragged on the global economy before the pandemic hit.
“I have a very good relationship,” with China’s leader, Xi Jinping, Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network, “but I just â?? right now, I don’t want to speak with him. I don’t want to speak with him.”
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude picked up 54 cents to $28.42 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $2.20 to $27.88 a barrel on Thursday.
Brent, the international standard, added 74 cents to $31.87 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar fell to 107.11 Japanese yen from 107.25 yen. The euro inched up to $1.0811, from $1.0805.