US stock indexes open slightly higher as some calm returns

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NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks are off to a slightly higher start on Wall Street as more signs of calm steadily return to the market following weeks of turbulence. Energy and industrial companies were among the early winners Tuesday. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% in the first few minutes of trading, and the Nasdaq was nearly flat. Investors were also embracing signs that businesses were doing their best to reopen following lockdowns meant to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Simon Property Group, a major mall operator, rose sharply after the company said it hoped to have half of its retail locations open within the next week.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below:

World shares were mostly higher on Tuesday as countries gradually lifted restrictions on business and public life, though worries over fresh outbreaks of coronavirus cases persisted.

Optimism over plans for reopening in many countries after shutdowns aimed at battling the pandemic has been tempered by reports of new waves of infections in states and countries that are further ahead in lifting lockdown measures. That includes small but disconcerting increases of new infections in South Korea, China and elsewhere.

“Re-opening economies is riddled with risks,” analyst Hayaki Narita of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

In London, the FTSE 100 was 0.9% higher, at 5,995, while the CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.3% to 4,479. Germany’s DAX rose 0.4% to 10,872.

The future for the S&P 500 was up 0.3% while that for the Dow industrials gained 0.4%.

Budget airline Ryanair, which was Europe’s busiest carrier before the pandemic, said it was preparing to operate nearly 1,000 daily flights starting in July, assuming government restrictions on flights are lifted. But in a sign that businesses are still suffering, major business lobbies in Germany, Italy and France published an appeal for more economic support across Europe.

In China, new figures showed that auto sales fell again in April but losses narrowed in a sign the industry’s biggest global market is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic as Beijing eases anti-disease controls. Sales of SUVs, sedans and minivans in the industry’s biggest global market were down 2.6% from a year earlier at 1.5 million, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That was an improvement over March’s 48.4% contraction and a nearly 82% plunge in February.

The industry group said the market is showing “obvious signs of recovery.”

But that news and reports of stronger growth in lending did little to lift sentiment. The Shanghai Composite index shed 0.1% to 2,891.56. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.5% to 24,245.68.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% lower to 20,366.48, while South Korea’s Kospi gave up 0.7% to 1,922.17.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.1% to 5,403.00 after the country’s treasurer said the country faces a “sobering” economic outlook due to the effects of the coronavirus and will have its largest-ever deficit when a revised budget is released in October.

An uptick in cases in South Korea has added to concern over the potential for rebounds in new coronavirus infections in places that relax restrictions. More than 100 new cases have been reported that were linked to bars and clubs, more than half of them in the capital, Seoul.

China reported only one new case on Tuesday, but that followed double-digit increases over the previous two days that set off renewed warnings to the public to not to become overconfident.

Many companies are reporting first quarter earnings, often opting to give no financial forecasts due to overwhelming uncertainty over what lies ahead. That was true of Toyota Motor Corp., whose shares fell 2% on Tuesday as it reported its net profit dropped nearly 90% in the January-March quarter from a year earlier, though it said it expected a recovery as the pandemic is brought under control.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 0.70%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil climbed $1.37 to $25.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 60 cents, or 2.4%, to settle at $24.14 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, added 95 cents to $30.58 per barrel. It dropped 4.3% to $29.63 a barrel in London.

The dollar fetched 107.34 Japanese yen, down from 107.66 late Monday. The euro rose to $1.0846 from $1.0807.

A worker cleans near a bank’s currency advertisement board in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, May 12, 2020. Shares are lower in Asia as news of fresh outbreaks of coronavirus cases and more infections among White House staff overshadowed hopes Tuesday over reopening economies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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