Stocks rise on US stimulus hopes

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World oil prices fell sharply amid ample supplies and timid demand.
World oil prices fell sharply amid ample supplies and timid demand.
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Most major stock markets around the world rose Thursday on growing hope of a coronavirus economic stimulus package in the United States after months of deadlock, while oil prices tumbled.

Wall Street's three main indices were all higher in late morning trading, with the Dow up 0.5%.

In Europe, both London and Paris moved modestly higher, while Frankfurt was dragged down by a sell-off in Bayer shares after the company announced more cost-cutting measures.

Asia began the new trading quarter on a quiet note, with Tokyo closed by a computer glitch and several others including Hong Kong and Shanghai shut for holidays, though there were healthy gains elsewhere.

Conciliatory remarks this week from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have revived hopes for a stimulus deal to boost the pandemic-hit US economy.

That boosted stocks again early Thursday, even though sealing a deal still looked challenging in light of criticism of spending measures from Senate Republicans.

Reports out of Washington said the two sides were looking at an "escalator" compromise in which the new stimulus starts at $1.5 trillion - around what Republicans are open to - and rises closer to the Democrats' $2.2-trillion plan if the pandemic persists.

"Hopes that a US fiscal stimulus package could be just around the corner, in addition to upbeat US data, is driving demand for riskier assets," said City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.

Data out Thursday showed new jobless claims dipped to 837 000 last week.

Early polls meanwhile showed increasing expectations Democrat Joe Biden would win November's election against the pro-business, anti-regulation Republican Donald Trump, after Tuesday's chaotic debate saw the two trade personal barbs and shout over each other.

Oil tumbles 

World oil prices fell sharply amid ample supplies and timid demand, with the benchmark US crude oil contract WTI down over 6% and the main international contract Brent was down over 5%.

Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson told AFP it "seems to be a general sentiment-driven sell-off based on demand/supply imbalances."

The stuttering economic recovery from coronavirus lockdown in many countries has complicated efforts by oil producers to ensure the market is not oversupplied.

CMC Markets analyst David Madden pointed to OPEC confirming a rise in production in September.

"To make matters worse for the oil market, health concerns are persistent, so that has chipped away at traders' perception of demand," he said.

Meanwhile, the British pound was on a rollercoaster as the European Union launched legal action over the UK government's attempt to overturn parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and talks on a post-Brexit trade deal were also underway.

Key figures around 16:30 GMT

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2% at 5 879.45 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2% at 12 730.70 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4% at 4 824.04 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2% at 3 187.24

New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.5% at 27 909.08

Sydney - S&P/ASX 200: UP 1.0% at 5 872.90 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Trade halted for the day

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: Closed for holiday

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for holiday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2893 from $1.2920 at 21:00 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 91.10 pence from 90.72 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1745 from $1.1721

Dollar/yen: UP at 105.55 yen from 105.48 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 6.4 percent at $37.63 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 5.5 percent at $39.99 per barrel

dan-rl/spm

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