- An Oxford University study has shown that dexamethasone could cut by one third the risk of death for coronavirus sufferers on ventilators.
LONDON: Stock markets extended gains Wednesday, although wins were far more modest than the strong rally seen in the previous session, as traders weighed coronavirus treatment and economic recovery hopes against fears of a second wave of COVID-19.
Approaching the half-way mark, London and Frankfurt were each up 0.6 percent, while Paris jumped 1.1 percent.
Hong Kong closed up 0.6 percent but Tokyo fell 0.6 percent. Oil prices retreated and the dollar traded mixed against its main rivals.
"Equity markets are showing modest gains... as the bullish sentiment from yesterday is lingering," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.
"The pandemic is still playing on traders' minds but there is hope that dexamethasone -- a low-dose steroid -- might turn out to be a useful treatment."
An Oxford University study has shown that dexamethasone could cut by one third the risk of death for coronavirus sufferers on ventilators.
It comes as the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan have pledged more support for troubled businesses -- amid reports of a fresh US stimulus worth $1.0 trillion and a worrying increase in infections from Beijing to Texas.
Optimism about the US economy was given an extra boost by data showing retail sales, crucial to any recovery, soared a forecast-busting 17.7 percent in May. That came after figures showed a surprise jump in jobs last month.
Still, Fed chief Jerome Powell, whose sobering summary of the outlook for the economy last week sparked a plunge across equities, warned in congressional testimony Tuesday that the recovery would take some time.
While some recent indicators have been favourable, he told lawmakers there was "significant uncertainty" about the outlook and unless consumers feel confident COVID-19 has been defeated, "a full recovery is unlikely".
He added that the April-June quarter "is likely to be the most severe on record".
Analysts are warning of a market pull-back, after valuations surged recently on the back of government and central bank support and easing lockdowns.
The major threat to any rebound is a renewed surge of infections, which could slow the easing of restrictions and reopening of economies.
Aside from the coronavirus, investors were tracking developments on the Korean peninsula after the North blew up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Pyongyang threatened to bolster its military presence in and around the Demilitarized Zone and rejected an offer from South Korean President Moon Jae-in to send envoys for talks.
Key figures around 1130 GMT
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 6,281.51 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.6 percent at 12,394.97
Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.1 percent at 5,007.63
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,270.39
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.6 percent at 21,455.76 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 24,481.41 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,935.87 (close)
New York - Dow: UP 2.0 percent at 26,289.98 (close)
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.9 percent at $37.66 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.4 percent at $40.38 per barrel
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1242 from $1.1263 at 2100 GMT
Dollar/yen: FLAT at 107.31 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2563 from $1.2570
Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.50 from 89.57 pence