Leg up: stocks make new ground, travel stocks soar

Morning Note

Sentiment among German companies has recovered somewhat after a “catastrophic few months”, the Ifo Institute said yesterday, in what neatly sums up where the global economy stands right now: horrendous, but perhaps not as horrendous as it could have been.

Of course, this is not the main reason stocks keep making new highs; this lies in the action of central banks and the vast amount of liquidity being pumped into the system.

The European Central Bank’s Villeroy – the governor of the Bank of France – said in all likelihood more stimulus is on the way. Overnight we’ve also heard from the Bank of Japan and PBOC, both of which have stressed they will keep their hands on the pump no matter what.

Global stocks have begun the week on a very solid footing and taken a leg higher to set new post-Covid highs as economies start to reopen and investors shrug off the simmering tensions over Hong Kong. The Nikkei rose over 2% to its best level since early March as Asian equities made broad gains with Japan ending its state of emergency.

Germany’s DAX extended Monday’s almost 3% gain, rallying 0.75% more on Tuesday morning. US futures are indicating the S&P 500 will recover 3,000 and look to take out the 200-day simple moving average, which would be its highest since March 5th. The FTSE 100 rallied 2% to 6100 as it played catch up to Europe’s Monday gains.

Travel & leisure are leading the charge today, with IAGTui, easyJet, InterContinental Hotels all posting double-digit percentage gains to top the index movers. Strength in this sector underscores confidence among investors that economies are reopening, and consumers are keen to travel.

There is a lot more hope that travel restrictions across Europe will be eased in time for the summer holidays. If the summer holiday season can be saved it would be a big plus after most of us wrote it off. Some people are a lot more willing to travel long distance than others. Tui rose 35% in London and was 17% higher in Frankfurt having gained on Monday.

Aston Martin shares shot up 30% after Andy Palmer walked the plank. It’s a pretty damning indictment of his tenure that the shares jumped this much after news of his sacking. Mercedes AMG stalwart Tobias Moers picks up the chalice.

Aston Martin has been one of the worst stock listings in living memory. In spite of rocketing higher today they are still worth a tenth of the IPO price – listing at about £5.50 today they are worth 45p. Things had already got pretty horrendous before this year; the coronavirus outbreak has been the coup de grace.

Across global equity benchmarks the indices are at or testing these March 5/6th-9th gaps. Momentum can see this run a bit more but there are still concerns that economic reality will catch up in the coming months and should there be secondary and tertiary waves of the virus it will see risk assets reverse.

There are many positives for markets to latch on to: Japan ended its nationwide emergency, England will reopen non-essential shops by Jun 15th, whilst Dubai and Hong Kong are easing lockdown measures.

The death rate in the US slowed to a 2-month low but may have been distorted by the Memorial Day holiday weekend seeing fewer cases reported. Germany’s Ifo business survey indicated things might not be as bad as feared. Spain is looking to save its summer holiday season by ending the quarantine of arrivals by July 1st.

There are hopes too on the medical front: Novavax has begun clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine, although Japan has postponed approval of the Avigan drug for the treatment of the coronavirus. The WHO has suspended trials of hydroxychloroquine – take note Donald Trump.

Yet there are lots of concerns still for the markets. Singapore lowered its GDP estimate to fall by as much as 7% this year and clearly the optimism being shown in equity markets is at odds with what’s happening on the ground.

Moreover, the situation in Hong Kong needs to be monitored and has the potential to become a lot more dangerous, whilst US-China tensions seem set to get a lot worse as we run into the US presidential election. Secondary and tertiary coronavirus waves are another significant risk to the global economy.

Oil was steady but WTI (Aug) does seem to be running into resistance $35 at the lower end of the gap, which could offer the opportunity for a pullback. Indications that Russia has cut output to 8.5m bpd, complying with its side of the OPEC+ deal, were encouraging. There are signs production cuts are coming through and the key focus will be on the pace of the demand recovery through the summer.

In FX, the euro was moving higher with EURUSD back towards the top of its 2-month range at little above 1.09 despite worries about the Eurozone rescue package. The ‘frugal four’ – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden – are not playing ball with the French and Germans, putting forward a counterproposal to the ‘Merkon’ €500bn bailout fund.

The four countries said they would not agree to a mutualization of debt, nor an increase in the EU budget. Talks on the EU Budget continue this week but despite the four holdouts, the change of tune by Frau Merkel has completely altered the balance.

GBPUSD was higher in early trade, taking out 1.2250 to move back to 1.2260. The May 19th high just a whisker off 1.23 is the upside target and could open path back to 1.2360.

Michael Gove and Brexit negotiator David Frost will appear before MPs on Wednesday and despite the furore over the PM’s chief adviser, likely toe the Cummings line: the UK is taking a tough line and does not see a reason to budge from this.

Chart: SPX what comes next… leg higher to 3140, or retest 2800? The 200-day simple moving average looks more like a resistance after a 35% run off the March trough. Previously this level has seen rallies run out of steam.

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