Stocks surge on hopes for easing virus crisis

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Global equity markets rebounded strongly Monday as some of the world's worst-hit countries reported falling coronavirus death rates, while oil prices sank after a meeting of top producers was delayed.

Wall Street powered to a solid rally, with the Dow gaining 1,600 point to close 7.7 percent higher, while key eurozone markets closed five percent higher or more.

"It's going up on hopes that perhaps we're reaching a peak in this coronavirus," said Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities.

AvaTrade analyst Naeem Aslam said "investors are shrugging off the pessimism" as death rates slowed in a number of European countries like Italy, Spain and France.

Besides news of the slowing deaths, US investor optimism was also fueled by "early signs that the virus' intensity in the epicenter of New York may be hitting an apex," said analysts at Charles Schwab.

London gains were capped by a stronger pound, but some of that value was lost after news broke that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care due to the coronavirus.

- 'Worst in 100 years ' -

But even as traders were feeling more optimistic, European governments were reaching for superlatives to describe the economic damage of the pandemic.

The French finance minister said his country was headed for its worst recession since World War II, while German leader Angela Merkel said the virus outbreak was the biggest challenge ever for the European Union.

Analysts at Oxford Economics said the pandemic "may trigger annual GDP declines among the worst seen in the last 100 years."

Meanwhile, the commodities' markets attention was on a planned meeting of OPEC and other key crude producers aimed at easing a supply glut that had sent oil prices crashing.

Both main contracts had soared last week after Trump said Saudi Arabia and Russia would hold talks on ending their price war, and after it emerged that OPEC would be holding a teleconference on Monday.

However, investors were dealt a blow over the weekend when the meeting was delayed until Thursday.

Analysts warned there were doubts that the US would take part in the discussions, which could be a major sticking point for Moscow and Riyadh.

But even if a deal is reached, there is skepticism the talked-about cuts of 10 million barrels a day would be enough to help the oil market, owing to a collapse in demand caused by the pandemic.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 7.7 percent at 22,679.99 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 7.0 percent at 2,663.68 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 7.3 percent at 7,913.24 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 3.1 percent at 5,582.39 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 5.8 percent at 10,075.17 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 4.6 percent at 4,346.14 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 5.0 percent at 2,795.97 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 4.2 percent at 18,576.30 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.2 percent at 23,749.12 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for a holiday

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 2.4 percent at $33.30 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 7.2 percent at $26.29 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0794 from $1.0801 at 2100 GMT on Friday

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.23 yen from 108.55

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2231 from $1.2269

Euro/pound: UP at 88.21 pence from 88.03 pence

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