Global stocks rise as lockdown measures ease further

Stock markets like the reopening of economies

Global stocks mostly rose Wednesday on optimism over steps to reopen major economies worldwide, as European Union officials unveiled their own massive virus recovery plan.

If passed, the 750 billion euro proposal would be the biggest EU stimulus package in history and could see Europe-wide taxes on plastics and big tech introduced in a major advance for European integration.

"The announcement gave European shares another lift earlier, with the number being proposed larger than what Germany and France previously agreed," OANDA analyst Craig Erlam told AFP.

London, Paris and Frankfurt all climbed more than one percent.

However German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the package may only come into force in January 2021, and Austria and Sweden were already pushing back on the project Wednesday.

Wall Street, meanwhile, continued to rally on continued optimism over the reopening of the US economy, even as a fresh Federal Reserve report pointed to anxiety among many businesses.

Investors are drawing hope from announcements such as Disney's plan Wednesday to reopen its Florida theme parks and a decision by the Nevada governor late Tuesday to give the all clear for Las Vegas casinos to reopen with restrictions.

Still, markets are bracing for more bad economic data. Analysts expect Thursday's jobless claims report to show almost two million more people being added to the unemployment rolls.

A Fed report described the outlook for businesses as "highly uncertain" with many companies "pessimistic about the potential pace of recovery."

Businesses also cited a list of "challenges in bringing employees back to work, including workers' health concerns, limited access to childcare and generous unemployment insurance benefits," the report said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 2.2 percent or more than 550 points to 25,548.27, its second straight gain of more than two percent.

Investors on both sides of the Atlantic mostly brushed aside deteriorating China-US relations and the impact of Hong Kong protests, the analysts said.

Still, IG analyst Joshua Mahony warned of "potential consequences for US-China relations" from the escalating tensions over Hong Kong.

Tokyo posted gains earlier, while other Asian stocks mostly slid -- Hong Kong falling the hardest as police fired pepper-ball rounds on anti-China protesters, with investors fearing the demonstrations could erupt into the worst unrest since last summer.

- Key figures around 2040 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 2.2 percent at 25,548.27 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 1.5 percent at 3,036.13 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.8 percent at 9,412.36 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.3 percent at 6,144.25 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 1.3 percent at 11,657.69 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.8 percent at 4,688.74 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.7 percent at 3,051.08 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 at 21,419.23 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 23,301.36 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,836.80 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 4.0 percent at $34.74 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 4.5 percent at $32.81 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1003 from $1.0982 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.77 yen from 107.54

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2257 from $1.2334

Euro/pound: UP at 89.75 pence from 89.04 pence

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