Global stocks headed for their greatest month on record Thursday, as encouraging early results from a COVID-19 treatment trial and expectations of more European Central Bank (ECB) stimulus later in the day, helped ease the ache of February and March.
Europe saw a cautious beginning with oil agency Shell’s first dividend lower in 80 years, a record drop in French Q1 GDP, and growth in German unemployment, all giving traders an excuse for some pre-ECB profit-taking.
Not that it mattered. Easing coronavirus worries mean the STOXX 600 is up more than 25% during the last six weeks. April will be Europe’s greatest month since 2009, and for MSCI’s World Index, it may very well be best since it began within the late 1980s.
A 1.4% rise in MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares, excluding Japan, stored it tracking towards a weekly gain of over 5%, its best in three weeks.
Optimism was also pushed by positive partial outcomes from a trial of Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir, which suggested it may speed up recovery from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
Japan’s Nikkei surged 2.8% to a seven-week high, and Australia’s ASX 200 jumped 2.7%, with the mood further underpinned by South Korea reporting no new domestic coronavirus infections for the first time since its Feb. 29 peak.