In European Equity Markets the pan-European Stoxx 600 closed around 1.4% higher, paring earlier gains. Travel and leisure stocks surged over 9% to lead gains after taking a hammering due to coronavirus shutdowns, while media stocks bucked the upward trend to fall more than 1%. British retailer W.H. Smith jumped 22.6%, rebounding from a heavy run of losses after warning of the significant impact of the coronavirus to its businesses. At the bottom of the European benchmark, British business process outsourcing giant Capita dropped 12.5%.
In Currency Markets sterling rebounded versus the U.S. dollar and euro, climbing off more than three-decade lows against the greenback as central banks moved to ease a scramble for dollars. The pound whipsawed from a fresh low of $1.1413 versus the dollar in Asian trading hours overnight. It climbed to just shy of $1.20 on the day before losing momentum and was last up 2.3% at just above $1.17. Against the euro, sterling was up 2% and was heading for its second day of gains in a row, last trading at 91.21 pence per euro.
In Commodities Markets oil prices fell sharply on Friday, putting U.S. crude on track for its biggest weekly percentage decline since 1991, as the spread of coronavirus slashed demand, while Moscow rejected U.S. intervention in a price war with Saudi Arabia. The selloff followed a market rebound on Thursday, when U.S. crude posted its largest one-day gain in history. On Friday, Brent crude futures were down $1.30, or 4.5%, to $27.16 a barrel. Brent was on track for a weekly loss of around 20% and its fourth consecutive weekly decline.
In US Equity Markets indexes rose more than 1% on Friday, as dramatic intervention by U.S. policymakers halted the worst monthly selloff in U.S. equities in three decades. The S&P 500 was up 1.02%, at 2,434.07. The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.10%, at 7,300.60.AT&T tumbled 4.1% as the wireless carrier warned the virus might have a material impact on financial results and canceled a $4 billion share repurchase agreement. Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were trading higher, with technology and consumer discretionary stocks leading gains.
In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury yields fell on Friday after New York’s governor ordered residents to stay at home in the latest emergency measure aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note was down 20 basis points at 0.9287%, ending a period of steady trading on Friday morning and resuming the volatile patterns seen earlier this week. In addition, the New York Fed said it would offer $1 trillion for daily repurchase agreement operations for the rest of the month.