Asian shares surged Friday on optimism the worst of the economic fallout from the pandemic may be over, as Wall Street logged its biggest rally in a week. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.8% to 20,025.91. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1% to 24,220.86, while the Shanghai Composite picked up 0.7% to 2,891.83.
World shares rose on Thursday after China's exports came in far stronger than expected, suggesting an economic recovery was under way, but the dollar fell from two-week highs as U.S. data showed millions more Americans joined the ranks of the unemployed. Gold jumped 2% as the weak U.S. data heightened fears over a coronavirus-induced global downturn. Initial U.S. jobless claims for unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 3.169 million for the week ended May 2, down from a revised 3.846 million in the prior week, the Labor Department's weekly report showed.
Asian stocks were set to come under pressure on Thursday as downbeat economic data pushed investors to safe havens and growing worries about falling demand sent oil prices lower. Traders continue to be torn between signs that consumers and businesses are emerging from the economic paralysis caused by the coronavirus and the reality that the pandemic continues to choke global demand. Also in focus are fresh hostilities between Beijing and Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was watching closely whether China would meet its commitments to increase U.S. goods purchases under the Phase 1 trade deal.