Stocks start higher as banks, industrial companies recover

Stocks are off to a solid start on Wall Street as banks made up some of the ground they lost a day earlier. Industrial companies were also strong early Wednesday, helping to push the benchmark S&P 500 index up 0.5% in the first few minutes of trading. GameStop sank after reporting results that missed Wall Street’s forecasts, though the stock is still up more than eightfold since the beginning of the year after it became a social media darling for a swarm of online investors. Intel rose after saying it would build two factories in Arizona. Treasury yields held steady.

Global stocks and fell Wednesday after Wall Street declined and European governments extended anti-coronavirus lockdowns, clouding the outlook for economic recovery.

London, Shanghai and Tokyo retreated. Frankfurt was little-changed. U.S. futures were modestly higher.

Overnight, Wall Street gave up most of the previous day’s gains as technology, industrial and bank stocks fell.

Investor confidence was shaken after Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and the Netherlands extended lockdowns and imposed new travel and business curbs in response to spikes in infection.

The World Health Organization said the weekly global death toll from the virus is rising again following six weeks of declines. It said the number of new reported cases rose in four of six global regions.

“Investors were left scrambling for life jackets, as it seems we are back navigating the stormy sea of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.4% to 6,670.55 while Frankfurt’s DAX was up less than 0.1% at 14,662.02. The CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.4% to 5,945.30.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.1% and the contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average future rose 0.2%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.8% to 3,910.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9% to 32,423.15.

The Nasdaq, dominated by tech stocks, sank 1.1% to 13,227.70.

In Asia on Wednesday, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3% to 3,367.63 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gave up 2% to 28,405.52. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 2.2% to 27,883.02.

The Kospi in South Korea retreated 0.3% to 2,996.35. The S&P-ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.5% to 6,778.80.

India’s Sensex lost 1.2% to 49,443.18. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

Investors are wavering between optimism about coronavirus vaccines that might allow business and travel to return to normal and concern about the pace of recovery.

In Europe, Germany on Tuesday extended anti-virus restrictions by three weeks to April 18 and said travelers arriving from abroad by air must undergo virus tests before boarding their flight. The Netherlands extended its lockdown by three weeks.

That followed similar moves earlier by Italy and France.

Traders also are watching the potential for inflation pressures to pick up after struggling economies were flooded with credit and government spending. That has depressed U.S. bond prices, prompting some to shift money out of stocks.

In Washington, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told Congress more must be done to limit economic damage. Powell stressed that he does not expect stimulus programs to trigger inflation.

Bond yields, or the difference between the market price and the payout at maturity, narrowed as prices rose. The yield of the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.62%, down from last week’s level above 1.70%.

That weighed on banks and other financial companies which look to yields as a benchmark for the interest rates they charge on mortgages and other loans. Bank of America fell 2.0% and Wells Fargo dropped 1.9%. American Express slid 2.8%.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 59 cents to $58.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $3.79 on Tuesday to $57.76 after Germany’s lockdown announcement triggered concern demand for industry and travel would decline.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 71 cents to $61.57 per barrel in London. It lost $3.83 the previous session to $60.79.

The dollar declined to 108.53 yen from Tuesday’s 108.75 yen. The euro retreated to $1.1821 from $1.1853.