European Shares Seen Opening On Flat Note

European stocks look set to open on a flat note Tuesday after official data showed that China’s manufacturing and services sectors both expanded in March, following the February lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The manufacturing PMI came in at 52 in March, up from a record low of 35.7 in February. The non-manufacturing PMI rose to 52.3 from 29.6 in February.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) attributed the surprise rebound in PMI to its record low base in February and cautioned that the readings do not signal a stabilization in economic activity.

The World Bank said in an updated forecast released Monday that the coronavirus outbreak will take a big toll on China and other East Asian-Pacific countries this year, throwing millions into poverty.

Under a worse-case scenario, the region could suffer its sharpest downturn since a devastating currency crisis more than two decades ago, the bank estimates.

Asian markets gave up some early gains to turn mixed and U.S. stock futures fluctuated, as the spread of the COVID-19 virus continued and investors braced for a number of weak economic reports on the global economy to come in through the week.

The number of known infections around the world topped 780,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has the highest number in the world, with more than 160,000.

The pandemic claimed 11,591 lives in locked-down Italy, while France on Monday reported its highest daily number of deaths from COVID-19.

More than 37,000 people have died worldwide from the pandemic since it emerged late last year in China, but more than 160,000 have also recovered.

Finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 major economies will hold a second round of virtual talks today to “advance a coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications”.

Gold prices fell as the dollar strengthened on hopes of a rebound in Chinese economic activity. Oil rebounded from 18-year lows after reports that U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to discuss stabilizing energy markets.

Unemployment data from Germany and flash inflation figures from euro area are due later in the session, headlining a busy day for the European economic news.

Across the Atlantic, trading activity could be impacted by reports on consumer confidence and Chicago-area business activity.

Survey results from the market research group GfK showed earlier today that U.K. consumer sentiment weakened moderately in March ahead of the national lockdown announced to stop the coronavirus outbreak. The corresponding index dropped two points to -9 in March.

Overnight, U.S. stocks rose sharply as President Donald Trump extended national social distancing guidelines until at least April 30 and said that he expects the U.S. to be “well on our way to recovery” by June 1st.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 3.2 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite surged 3.6 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 3.4 percent.

European markets closed higher on Monday as investors weighed economic risks against unprecedented government stimulus and central bank interventions.

The pan European Stoxx 600 gained 1.3 percent. The German DAX climbed 1.9 percent, France’s CAC 40 index rose 0.6 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 added 1 percent.

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