Equities Resist Onslaught of Grim Economic Data

German manufacturers' saw their new orders fall a record 15.6 percent in March
The world's main stock markets brushed off on Wednesday data showing the extent of the economic damage wrought by measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
Top among that data: more than 20.2 million US private sector jobs were destroyed in April according to payrolls firm ADP.
Nevertheless, US stocks pushed higher at the open, but the Dow had dipped into the red by the close of European trading.
The ADP figures are seen as an indicator of the all-important government non-farm jobs report due out Friday, which economists expect to show 28 million jobs lost in the month due to the widespread business shutdowns to contain the virus.
"The stock market isn't trading from a standpoint of 'what have you done for me lately'. It's trading from a standpoint of 'what will you do for me later', and in its mind, what comes later is going to look a lot better than what has come lately," said market analyst Patrick J. O'Hare at Briefing.com.
"That's why it continues to hold its ground in the face of ugly economic data and downbeat earnings news," he added.
Chris Beauchamp at online trading firm IG said investors already know the jobs numbers are going to be bad and are instead focusing on the questions of how long it will stay this way and what the recovery will look like.
"These are much tougher to answer, but the gains in equities over the past six weeks have been built on the idea that massive stimulus efforts will dull the edge of this crisis and promote a faster recovery," he said in a note to clients.
European stock markets nursed modest losses while Asian indices mostly rose, and oil prices slid.
In other downbeat economic news, the European Commission predicted the eurozone economy would contract by a staggering 7.7 percent in 2020.
Calling it a "recession of historic proportions", the EU's executive said the 19-member single currency zone would then rebound by 6.3 percent in 2021, in an uncertain recovery that would be felt unevenly across the continent.
It came after official data showed German manufacturers' new orders plunged by a record 15.6 percent in March.
A draft agreement revealed that Germany, Europe's biggest economy, will take new steps towards normalisation in May, including reopening shops and schools after weeks of shutdown imposed to control the spread of COVID-19.
"Risk sentiment continues to be buoyed on news of more countries/states rolling back containment measures, followed by reports of more companies re-opening operations," said Tapas Strickland of National Australia Bank.
"That is giving hope that rollback will allow economic activity to resume and that we may be passed the trough in economic activity."
British PM Boris Johnson said he could begin to ease a nationwide coronavirus lockdown next week, while Belgium is to open shops on Monday.
But fears of a second virus wave as the lockdown eases have been keeping traders on their toes.
- Key figures around 1600 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP less than 0.1 percent at 5,853.76 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 1.2 percent at 10,606.20 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 1.1 percent at 4,433.38 (close)
Milan - FTSE MIB: DOWN 1.3 percent at 17,159.31 (close)
Madrid - IBEX 35: DOWN 1.0 percent at 6,680.80 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 1.2 percent at 2,842.09
New York - Dow: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 23,865.06
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 24,137.48 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 2,878.14 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 6.9 percent at $28.84 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 5.8 percent at $23.14 per barrel
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0802 from $1.0834 at 2045 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.07 yen from 106.53 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2351 from $1.2435
Euro/pound: UP at 87.47 pence from 87.11 pence.


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