European stocks pushed higher on Friday and headed for a weekly gain after days of worries over rising coronavirus cases in parts of the world. Potential good news on the U.S.-China trade front was driving some momentum.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.6%, after closing down 0.7% on Thursday, snapping a two-session winning streak. For the week to Thursday, the index has gained 2.6%. Elsewhere, the German DAX 30 index gained 0.6%, the French CAC 40 index climbed 0.8% and the FTSE 100 added 0.4%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures rose 0.5%, or 138 points to 26,036, after Thursday’s session, which saw the index notch its second-straight decline. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite eked out slight gains.
Friday also marks U.S. quadruple witching — the simultaneous expiration of single-stock options, single-stock futures, and stock-index options and stock-futures — that can trigger turbulence.
Futures were flat until a report surfaced on Bloomberg that China will increase buying of U.S. soybeans, corn and ethanol in line with a phase one trade deal, which got delayed by the pandemic. That comes after talks between Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and China’s top foreign policy official in Hawaii this week.
President Donald Trump on Thursday said in a tweet that the U.S. could completely decouple from China, a day after his top trade adviser said such a move wouldn’t be a reasonable policy
Equities have generally seen a choppy week amid a struggle to rally further off March lows. Investors have been grappling with persistent coronavirus outbreaks in part of the U.S., though China has declared a Beijing outbreak as under control, and signs of how economies are coping.
European Union leaders will on Friday relaunch negotiations over a 750 billion euro (US$840 billion) recovery fund to revive battered European economies. Deep divisions remain with hard-hit countries such as Spain and Italy pushing for funds, while the so-called “frugal four”, including Denmark and Austria, are opposed to the fact much of that money would be earmarked as grants.
Among stocks on the move, shares of Wirecard AG tumbled another 43%, extending Thursday’s declines when the German payments processor said its auditor could not locate €1.9 billion ($2.1 billion) in cash on its balance sheet. Wirecard could see banks terminate €2 billion in loans if it can’t file its 2019 accounts on Friday.
Some of that missing cash was apparently held in Asia, but a Philippines bank involved in the investigation told Bloomberg that documents had been forged. A Wirecard spokesperson didn’t respond to Bloomberg request for comment.
Wirecard will struggle to “get out of this unscathed,” even if a white knight such as the German government steps in should those loans get terminated, David Vignon, analyst at Bryan Garnier, told clients in a note.
“Wirecard once was one of the crown jewels of the German financial market and the German government could bail it out either by taking a stake or by guaranteeing a loan. In any case, this would most likely lead to a new management being put in place by the German government, and a long and extensive review of the company’s operations,” he said.
Elsewhere, oil companies and drug stocks were helping support the Stoxx 600, with Total SA up 1.2% and Roche Holding AG rising over 1%.