Coronavirus drug hopes, lockdown pullbacks in focus

European stocks opened sharply higher on Friday after a report that a drug developed by Gilead Sciences was showing effectiveness in treating the coronavirus.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 jumped 2.6% in early trade, with travel and leisure stocks surging 5.1% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.

Global stock markets are looking up after STAT news reported that a Chicago hospital treating coronavirus patients with Remdesivir in a trial were recovering rapidly from severe symptoms.

Meanwhile, countries around the world including the U.S. and Germany, Europe’s largest economy, are beginning to implement plans to lift lockdown measures as the rate of new cases declines.

However, the International Monetary Fund this week said the global economy is expected to shrink by 3% this year, before growing by 5.8% next year — a rebound that its Chief Economist Gita Gopinath has described as a “partial recovery.”

Asian stocks rose on Friday afternoon despite new official data showing China’s economy shrinking by 6.8% in the first quarter. South Korea’s Kospi index climbed more than 3% to lead gains.

Stateside, futures are pointing to a substantial rally on Wall Street Friday as investors react to hopes of a treatment for the coronavirus, which has now infected more than 2.1 million people worldwide.

On the data front, euro zone construction output and inflation figures are due at 10 a.m. London time.

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