Seeing Opportunities, Investors Go Shopping: Live Business Updates

Asian markets falter after Wall Street’s rally.

Global stocks faltered on Thursday after Wall Street’s rally the day before, as worries about the coronavirus eclipsed optimism that some of the hardest-hit countries were making gains in the fight against the outbreak.

Tokyo shares were lower by midday Thursday, and other markets were positive but heading down from earlier gains. Futures markets suggested Europe and Wall Street would open mixed.

Markets have surged in recent days as the number of new, confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths have leveled off or fallen in some of the hardest hit parts of the United States and Europe. On Wednesday, the S&P 500 index in the United States ended 3.4 percent higher.

But the prospect of problems ahead will likely trouble investors for months to come. The latest blow was expected later on Thursday, when American official are expected to issue another set of weekly unemployment claims data.

Underscoring the uncertainty, U.S. Treasury bond prices were higher, showing continuing investor interest in parking their money in a traditional safe haven.

In other markets, oil prices on futures markets rose on continuing hopes that major petroleum-producing countries would agree to cut production.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index was down 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 0.8 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China rose 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi index was 1.4 percent higher.

Bargain-hunting: “We will never get these prices again.”

After a 3.4 percent rise on Wednesday, the S&P 500 has bounced up 23 percent from its low in a disastrous March, despite a darkening outlook for economic growth and corporate profits.

One reason: It’s the time to buy for investors able to stomach the market’s swoons.

Cole Smead, a portfolio manager at the Smead Value Fund, has been snapping up bargains in beaten-up parts of the market, like oil and energy producers, homebuilders and shopping mall companies, that are closely tied to short-term swings in the economy.

“We will never get these prices again,” said Mr. Smead, whose fund has $1.3 billion in assets.

As economically damaging as the pandemic will no doubt be, Wall Street is starting to see a path forward that wasn’t clear a few weeks ago. Slowing infection rates, hefty government relief packages and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to calm the markets have helped eased investors’ minds.

Some of the buyers are opportunistic hedge fund traders and mutual fund managers, driving sharp gains for blue-chip shares that were battered by the market sell-off. Some are traders feeling pressure to get into a rising market. And some are short-sellers forced to buy to minimize their own losses.

But mom-and-pop investors have largely been sitting out — a sign that the rally doesn’t reflect widespread optimism.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

Carlos Tejada, Nicole Perlroth and Matt Phillips contributed reporting.

Source Article