Stock Markets in Asia Surge, Even as China’s G.D.P. Falls: Live Updates


Asian markets surge on signs of overcoming the pandemic.

Investors in Asia on Friday found reason to cheer despite a disastrous economic report from China, sending shares higher and signaling the start of a strong trading day.

South Korean shares led a broad regional rally at midday, with many markets up more than 2 percent. Futures markets were predicting a similarly cheery opening on Wall Street.

Though the world economy remains under siege, investors were looking to signs of progress. Some looked to a media report that a drug from Gilead Sciences showed early — and, thus far, unproven — promise in fighting the coronavirus. Boeing said it was resuming commercial plane production. China reported for the first time in decades that its economy shrank, but the number was still better than some had forecast.

Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds fell in early Friday trading, suggesting investors were willing to take more risks.

At midday Friday in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was up 2.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 2.2 percent. In South Korea, the Kospi was up 3.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index was up 2.1 percent.

China’s official G.D.P. shrinks for the first time since 1976.

The announcement is the first attempt at large-scale resumption of business activity by a U.S. corporation since the coronavirus outbreak forced companies and government officials to shut down most nonessential work. President Trump is encouraging businesses and states to reopen the economy by May 1 or earlier.

“Following thorough reviews of local conditions, we’ve started restoring operations at some sites where work has been suspended,” Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, said in a letter to employees ahead of the announcement. This week, the company brought about 2,500 employees in the state back to work, most of them focused on defense production operations.

Of Boeing’s approximately 160,000 employees worldwide, there are at least 66 current confirmed coronavirus infections. At least 124 others have recovered after being infected.

Boeing employees who return to work in the coming week will find new health and safety precautions in place, such as staggered start times and spread-out work areas, the company said. But a company spokesman, Charles Bickers, said Boeing would not test employees for the virus.

Congress initially allocated $349 billion for the program, which was intended to provide loans to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The money has gone quickly, with more than 1.4 million loans already approved as of Wednesday evening, as small businesses struggle with virus-induced quarantines and closings.

Dr. Nancy Kim, 42, who owns Spectrum Dermatology in Scottsdale, Ariz., tried to get a loan through the program, but her bank, Wells Fargo, never accepted their application and eight other lenders turned her away.

“Within the next one or two months, we might run out of money and have to shut down completely,” Dr. Kim said on Thursday. “Our patients are going to suffer.”

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman said the bank continued to prepare applications for the funds and would submit them when the funds were available again.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

Reporting was contributed by Elaine Yu, Kevin McKenna, Nelson D. Schwartz, Kate Conger, Katie Thomas, Erin Griffith, Emily Flitter, Alan Rappeport, Brooks Barnes, Keith Bradsher, Niraj Chokshi, Vindu Goel, Carlos Tejada and Mike Ives. Yiwei Wang and Coral Yang contributed research.



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