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Global Stocks Tread Water

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06/05/2020 | 12:47am EDT

By Joanne Chiu

International markets were little changed, with persistent concerns over the pace of economic recovery tempering investor appetite after a recent rally.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index advanced slightly in Friday-morning trading. E-mini S&P 500 futures rose 0.3%, suggesting U.S. stocks could rise Friday. Benchmarks in mainland China, Japan and Australia pulled back modestly. South Korea's Kospi Composite rose more than half a percent.

On Thursday the S&P 500 broke a four-session winning streak as disappointing trade and job data showed the coronavirus pandemic's continued toll on the economy.

Equity markets and the broader economy are disconnected, said Daryl Liew, chief investment officer at REYL Singapore.

The recent stock-market surge was partly driven by massive stimulus, plus optimism over "the loosening of restrictions across the world and the expectations that we could see a V-shaped recovery," he said.

"However, we haven't really seen that in the broader economy yet," Mr. Liew said. He said if business activity doesn't rebound by the third quarter, "governments might have to do more because otherwise you're going to see a flood of bankruptcies and insolvencies."

Mr. Liew said he is holding more cash after reducing his holdings of shares because of uncertainties including potential new waves of coronavirus infections in some countries, and escalating U.S.-China tension ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.

Lewis Wan, chief investment officer at Pride Investments Group, said he is cautious on equities following a global rebound. In dollar terms, the MSCI All Country World Index had jumped 37.5% as of Thursday, compared with its low on March 23, according to FactSet.

"We're probably going to see more volatility in equities until there's more certainty over the development of vaccines," and the U.S.-China relationship stabilizes, he said. Mr. Wan said any resurgence of new coronavirus infections could damage already fragile investor confidence.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, was little changed at 91.22 on Friday in Asian trading hours. As measured by this index, the dollar has weakened for eight of the last 9 trading sessions to Thursday, and has retreated nearly 6% from a peak in late March, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Write to Joanne Chiu at joanne.chiu@wsj.com


Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AT HOME GROUP INC. 3.91% 6.64 Delayed Quote.20.73%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.36% 25827.36 Delayed Quote.-9.82%
EURO / US DOLLAR (EUR/USD) 0.10% 1.12476 Delayed Quote.0.35%
HANG SENG 1.03% 25351.9 Real-time Quote.-10.99%
JUST GROUP PLC -4.49% 48.9 Delayed Quote.-35.19%
KOSPI COMPOSITE INDEX 0.91% 2149.38 Real-time Quote.-3.13%
LETS HOLDINGS GROUP CO., LTD. -1.84% 11.22 End-of-day quote.85.76%
LOOK HOLDINGS INCORPORATED -3.53% 684 End-of-day quote.-45.37%
NASDAQ 100 0.61% 10341.891881 Delayed Quote.18.42%
NASDAQ COMP. 0.52% 10207.628547 Delayed Quote.13.76%
RISE, INC. 6.90% 31 End-of-day quote.3.33%
S&P 500 0.45% 3130.01 Delayed Quote.-3.12%
THE GLOBAL LTD. 0.97% 209 End-of-day quote.-55.63%
WILL GROUP, INC. 0.32% 636 End-of-day quote.-49.20%
WORLD CO., LTD. -1.19% 1496 End-of-day quote.-44.41%
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