Futures rise at end of dismal first quarter

(Reuters) – U.S. stock index futures rose on Tuesday at the end of one of Wall Street’s worst first quarters on record, as an unexpected expansion in Chinese factory activity raised hopes of a more stable economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A rebound in oil prices from 18-year lows after the United States and Russia agreed to discuss stabilizing energy markets helped lift shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) about 4% in light premarket trading.

Cruise operators and airlines — among the most battered stocks as the corornavirus outbreak brought global travel to a standstill this month — also rose between 6% and 9%.

China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) bounced to 52.0 in March, up from a record-low 35.7 in February, but analysts cautioned that a durable near-term recovery is far from assured as the global coronavirus crisis knocks foreign demand.

At 05:46 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were up 122 points, or 0.55%, S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were up 14.5 points, or 0.56% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were up 76 points, or 0.97%.

SPDR S&P 500 ETFs (SPY.P) were up 0.46%.

The S&P 500 index .SPX closed up 3.35% at 2,626.65​ on Monday.

Despite the recent rally, the slump from the mid February record highs has set the Dow Jones .DJI on course for its worst first quarter ever, while the S&P 500 .SPX is on track for its worst since 1938.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is set to close out its worst first three months of the year since 2008.

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