Global stocks climb to fresh records as China posts blowout Q1 growth, US shows strong data

NEW YORK (AFP) – Global stocks rallied on Friday (April 16), with major indices hitting new all-time highs, following data showing record economic growth in China and additional acceleration in the United States.

China saw expansion of 18.3 per cent in the first quarter, boosted by a sharper-than-expected increase in retail sales. The economic growth figure was the highest since records began three decades ago, enhanced by its chronically weak comparison figure from last year, though the reading was slightly below forecasts in an AFP survey.

“The national economy made a good start,” National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Liu Aihua told reporters on Friday.

In the United States, new housing starts jumped 19.4 per cent in March, while housing permits also outperformed expectations. The data came on the heels of strong government reports on employment and retail sales released on Thursday.

“We had tremendous data all week this week,” said Mr Chris Low of FHN Financial. “In addition to strong data, we get reassurances from Fed officials all week, including the chair, that they’re very comfortable with the economic and inflation environment… so that’s good news for equities, as well.”

Both the Dow and S&P finished at fresh records on Friday and also posted their fourth consecutive weekly gains.  “The bulls continue to call the shots and they have reason once again to like what they see and hear, as it resembles in many respects what they saw and heard yesterday,” said Mr Patrick J. O’Hare at Briefing.com.

German’s DAX finished at a record high, while Paris’ CAC gained nearly 1 per cent. London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed above 7,000 points for the first time since February 2020, or just before the coronavirus pandemic took hold worldwide.

“The FTSE’s breakout above the key 7,000 level and the DAX surging to a new record high suggest investors remain convinced that the European economy will also rebound strongly in the months ahead as lockdowns ease and travel and tourism resumes,” said Think Markets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

Among individual companies, Morgan Stanley dropped 2.8 per cent after disclosing a US$911 million (S$1.2 billion) loss from the meltdown of Archegos Capital Management despite reporting blockbuster first-quarter profits.

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