By JOE McDONALD
AP Business Writer
BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed Friday after Wall Street gained for the first time in three days on stronger oil prices despite enduring uncertainty about how long the global economic decline due to the coronavirus pandemic will last.
Tokyo and Seoul rose while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney retreated. Oil prices gave up some of the previous day’s gains.
U.S. stocks jumped Thursday after the price of crude surged by 25% following President Donald Trump’s comment on Twitter that he expects Russia and Saudi Arabia to back away from their price-cutting war.
The pushed the benchmark S&P 500 index up 2.3%.
“As volatility slowly adjusts lower, it looks as if the extreme panic sell-off appears to be easing off as well,” said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp in a report.
U.S. stocks gained despite more data showing millions more Americans losing their jobs.
Markets usually welcome lower energy costs for companies and consumers. But the abrupt plunge to below $20 this week from $60 at the start of the year triggered fears heavily indebted producers might default, causing more damage to credit markets.
Trump said on Twitter he expects production cuts are coming after talking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
By the end of trading Thursday, benchmark U.S. crude rose $5.01, or 24.7%, to $25.32 per barrel.
Energy stocks in the S&P 500 rallied by 9.1%. Schlumberger, an oilfield services company, jumped 10.2%, EOG Resources rose 10.7% and Occidental Petroleum leaped 18.9%, though for the year all three are down 50% to 70%.
The S&P 500 rose 2.3% to 2,526.90. It dropped as much as 0.6% earlier Thursday after the U.S. government reported more than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.2% and the Nasdaq rose 1.7% to 7,487.31.
Roughly one of every 16 working Americans has applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks. Economists expect that to rise. That has many investors bracing for what may be the worst recession of their lifetimes.
Traders expect more volatility until numbers of new coronavirus cases begin to decline, which forecasters say might be weeks away.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has topped 1 million, led by the United States with more than 236,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 51,000 have died, but more than 208,000 have recovered.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
On Friday, U.S. crude declined 98 cents to $24.34 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 90 cents to $29.04 per barrel in London.
The dollar edged up to 107.92 yen from Thursday’s 107.90 yen. The euro declined to $1.0845 from $1.0856.
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