Stocks end bleak quarter higher as Chinese factories see rebound

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Employees working on a battery production line at a factory in an eastern Chinese province. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Stocks climbed across the world on Tuesday after stronger-than-expected industrial data from China raised hopes that the world’s second-largest economy could stage a swift recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (^STOXX) closed up 1.6%, while London’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) ended the day up 1.9%.

Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) ended up 1.4% and the France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was 0.4% in the green.

In the US, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) was up by 0.1% as Europe closed, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) climbed by around 0.2%. Shares on the Nasdaq (^IXIC) were up by 0.6%.

A closely watched official survey of Chinese factories suggested that an easing of restrictions in the country has prompted a rebound, with the manufacturing sector’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading coming in at 52.0 in March.

Read more: World Bank warns of economic pain and poverty for Asia

That was well above analyst forecasts of 45.0, and a significant jump from the record-low figure of 35.7 seen in February.

“China provided Western investors with a light at the end of the tunnel on Tuesday, showing it is possible to return to growth after the worst of the coronavirus crisis,” said Conor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex.

The rebound gave investors, who are awaiting dire economic data from the US and Europe, reason to be “cautiously hopeful,” Campbell said.

The rally wasn’t enough to erase one of the worst quarters in history for global stocks. The FTSE 100 has dropped by 25% since the start of the year, the worst three month stretch since the end of 1987.

The advances in the US and Europe on Tuesday followed modest gains for stocks in Asia.

The World Bank warned on Tuesday that the pandemic was likely to severely dent economic growth in East Asian developing economies as well as in China.

Read more: UK economic growth flatlined even before coronavirus hit country

China’s SSE Composite Index (^SSEC) rose by 0.1% on Tuesday, while the Hang Seng (^HSI) was up by 1.3% in Hong Kong at market close.

While Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rose by around 0.9%, the KOSPI Composite Index (^KOSPI) in South Korea closed almost 2.2% in the green.

Oil prices, which crashed to a 17-year-low on Monday amid a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, staged a recovery of sorts on Tuesday.

Crude oil (CL=F) was trading 1% higher at $20.30 per barrel. Brent (BZ=F) fell by 1.3% to $23.06.