Global stocks bounced back strongly Friday, buoyed by sharply higher oil prices and the prospect of more monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank.
Japan led the rebound as the Nikkei index had its best single day in four years, just two days after entering bear market territory.
KEEPING SCORE: In early European trading, France's CAC 40 added 3% to 4,332.78 and Germany's DAX rose 2% to 9,762.41 Britain's FTSE 100 climbed 2.23% to 5,902.61 U.S. stocks were poised to open higher. Dow futures were up 1.3% to 15,992.00, and broader S&P 500 futures rose 1.40% to 1,887.00.
STIMULUS HOPE: European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi cheered investors by saying the bank is prepared to take action as early as its next meeting in March to expand existing stimulus efforts. Though the ECB left key interest rates and its 1.5-trillion euro ($1.6-trillion) monetary stimulus program unchanged Thursday, Draghi underscored his willingness to ramp up the program if plummeting oil prices and market turmoil threaten the continent's weak economy.
ASIAN SCORECARD: Japan's Nikkei 225 posted its biggest one-day gain in more than four months, soaring 5.9% to close at 16,958.53 on hopes the Bank of Japan would join Europe in promising additional monetary stimulus. South Korea's Kospi gained 2.1% to 1,879.43. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 2.9% to 19,080.51 and the Shanghai Composite index in mainland China climbed 1.3% to 2,916.56. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.1% to 4,916.00. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Southeast Asia and New Zealand also ended higher.
ANALYST VIEW: “Monetary easing speculation is providing a boost for Asian markets today,” Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne, said in a commentary. “Nowhere more so than in Japan.”
ENERGY: Oil prices rebounding from their lowest level in 12 years are also supporting investor sentiment. Crude futures extended gains after bouncing back from their worst day in four months. U.S. benchmark crude rose by 1.62, or 5.5%, to $31.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, rose $1.92 to $31.17 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 118.25 yen Friday, from 117.77 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened on the prospect of further stimulus, slipping to $1.0825, from $1.0851.