Investor fears about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak appeared to ease after Fed chair Jerome Powell's comments to Congress members

London (AFP) - Global stock markets climbed Wednesday on easing investor concerns over the economic impact of COVID-19.

While the death toll from China’s coronavirus epidemic climbed past 1,100 on Wednesday, the number of new cases fell for a second straight day, raising hope the outbreak could peak later this month.

Market sentiment has been positive since US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that its assessment of the economic fallout was not as gloomy as many had expected.

There are meanwhile expectations that Beijing will introduce major stimulus policies to offset economic hits.

“It’s now hoped that, as far as the economy is concerned, we’re just facing a bad quarter that could wipe around 1.0 percent of full-year Chinese growth,” noted Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA Europe.

COVID-19 emerged in central China late last year and has spooked equity and oil markets for weeks as it spread to more than two dozen countries.

But with economic concerns easing, Brent crude oil rallied by two percent on Wednesday while safe-haven investment gold retreated.

“Gold is slowly losing its appeal as traders declare the end of COVID-19 in sight,” said Erlam.

“This may be premature but stock markets are at record highs and central banks appear relatively relaxed about the whole situation.”

US planemaker Boeing however issued a stark warning about the impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, saying there was “no question” it would hammer the aviation industry and the broader economy.

Major airlines have halted flights in and out of China, where a lockdown has been imposed in the worst-affected areas, while several countries have banned arrivals from China.

“You have several global airlines that have limited their traffic in and out of China, that’s revenue,” said Ihssane Mounir, the US plane maker’s senior vice president of commercial global sales and marketing.

Meanwhile, the OPEC oil cartel lowered its forecast for growth in global oil demand this year by nearly a fifth due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

- Key figures at 1430 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 7,539.45 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.9 percent at 13,743.62

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 6,100.06

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.7 percent at 3,851.82

New York - DOW: UP 0.6 percent at 29,440.02

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.7 percent at 23,861.21 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 27,823.66 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 2,926.90 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0908 from $1.0916

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2966 from $1.2952

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.13 pence from 84.28 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.08 from 109.79

Brent Crude: UP 3.7 percent at $56.00 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 3.3 percent at $51.59 per barrel