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Wed. 8:56 a.m.: World stocks rise on hopes virus disruption can be contained

People walk past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank today in Hong Kong. Asian shares were higher today, although the outbreak of a new virus in the region continued to weigh on investor sentiments. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

TOKYO (AP) — Global stock markets rose today on hopes that central banks and governments are able to help the economy get past the disruptions created by the outbreak of a new virus, mostly in China.

France’s CAC 40 added 0.5 percent to 6,082 and Germany’s DAX was up 0.8 percent at 13,739. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 percent to 7,531. U.S. shares were set to drift higher with Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.4 percent.

Earlier, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent to finish at 23,861.21. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 7,088.20. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.9 percent to 27,819.94, while the Shanghai Composite also rose 0.9 percent to 2,926.90.

“Despite coronavirus concerns, investors tend to believe that central banks and policymakers have measures to stimulate the economy during and post the public health crisis,” said analysts at financial firm CMC Markets in a report.

China reported 97 more deaths from the new disease, named COVID-19, pushing the total dead past 1,100, even as the country remained largely closed down to prevent its spread. The number of cases worldwide is about 45,000, all but a few hundred in China.

Investor sentiment in Asia was cheered somewhat by Wall Street, where modest gains overnight nudged the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to all-time highs for the second straight day.

Investors weighed another batch of mostly solid company earnings reports. Sprint soared after a federal judge cleared a major obstacle to the company being acquired by T-Mobile. Cruise operators, hotels and other companies that focus on travel made solid gains, the latest sign that traders are feeling less worried about the economic impact from the virus outbreak.

Investors are also getting some encouragement from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comment in a report to Congress, that it was too early to assess the threat the virus poses to the U.S. economy, but he noted that the economy “is in a very good place” with strong job creation and moderate growth.

Traders welcomed a federal judge’s decision to reject claims by a group of states arguing T-Mobile’s proposed $26.5 billion buyout of rival Sprint would mean less competition and higher phone bills. Shares in Sprint and T-Mobile rose on Wall Street. Shares of SoftBank, which owns Sprint, jumped in Tokyo trading.

In energy markets, the benchmark crude oil contract added 78 cents to $50.72 a barrel. It rose 37 cents the day before. Brent crude oil, the international standard, gained $1.13 to $55.14 a barrel.

CURRENCIES:

The dollar rose to 109.96 Japanese yen from 109.85 yen on Tuesday. The euro was stable around $1.0914.

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