Stocks sink as Trump tests positive for Covid-19

President Trump and First Lady Melania have tested positive for Covid-19. How has the market reacted, and what does this mean for the US Presidential Election?

Stay on top of the polls and all the latest election news with our dedicated US Presidential Election site.

Stocks open higher ahead of busy central bank week

It looks like a second wave, but not as we know it. Even if cases are starting to rise in Britain and elsewhere, deaths are not picking up in the same way as before – younger, less vulnerable people are getting the virus this time it seems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded a record one-day rise in cases globally. France recorded a record number of new infections – some 10k over the weekend. There is not the appetite for blanket shutdowns of the economy again – this is good, but the ongoing fear factor will keep a lid on animal spirits.

And governments could be spooked into heavy-handed responses, even if they don’t want to kneecap the economy.

AstraZeneca resumes vaccine trial

Fear can be vanquished with a vaccine, so it’s good news that AstraZeneca and Oxford University are resuming trial of their vaccine candidate, after it was paused a week ago. News on a vaccine – good or bad- is set to emerge in October, it seems.

Pfizer says there is a good chance it will deliver data from its late stage trials of its candidate vaccine, developed with German drug maker BioNTech. If approved, it could be available to Americans by the end of the year. The question is whether this may be needed – Sweden seems to be showing the way towards herd immunity.

With vaccines and herd immunity, unemployment becomes a much bigger problem. The end of the furlough scheme raises the prospect of employment rates reaching a cliff-edge. Unemployment could spiral and redundancies are taking place at twice the rate of the last recession. US initial jobless claims last week indicated the recovery is slow, even if job openings are more encouraging.

BoE to signal more stimulus this week?

This could make this week’s Bank of England meeting interesting. It has enough ammo in the quantitative easing quiver to last until the end of the year, but with only two more scheduled before 2020 is over, the Bank will need to lay the ground for more stimulus. Governor Andrew Bailey said central banks should go “big and fast” with QE and other stimulus at times of crisis.

If there an explosion in unemployment, this line will be tested. I’d expect the Bank to sound more dovish this week, although it is unlikely to alter policy so far in advance of the November Budget, in which the government show its fiscal hand.

Of course, there is still time for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to extend furlough, as many are urging him to do. UK 2-year gilt yields hit fresh record lows this morning with the market seemingly convinced the BoE will give a very strong signal it is preparing to deliver additional stimulus – most likely in the form of increased asset purchases rather than a descent into a vortex of negative rates.

The problem of furlough schemes and extending them is of course one of productivity and the opportunity cost of maintaining people in a kind of output stasis. Zombie workers and zombie companies are a growing problem. Indeed, new research shows the number of zombie companies in the US is near the 2000 record.

European stocks build on decent week

European markets opened higher on Monday, with the FTSE 100 solidifying above 6,000 and the DAX ticked up to 13,300. This comes after a decent week for European markets that contrasted with Wall Street weakness.

The Nasdaq finished last week down –4%, with the S&P 500 dropping –2.5% over the five days. The Nasdaq broke under its 50-day simple moving average, whilst the S&P 500 traded through it at the lows but held it at the close.

European markets fared better as they were much less exposed to the sell-off in tech – some rotation taking place as investors look to ‘reopening’ stocks over the Covid-19 winners, but it was far from anything significant.

Indeed, in dollar terms, the moves in the FTSE 100 for example were far less impressive. Investors in the US may also be paying attention to the presidential race – Biden’s tax plans would knock earnings, although it’s far tighter race than the national polls indicate. US futures are higher and have cleared the Friday peak struck during the London morning session.

Abenomics safe as Suga elected new leader?

Suga-high for Japanese equities? In Japan, Yoshihide Suga, the former chief cabinet secretary, looks set to replace Shinzo Abe as prime minister after being elected to the lead the country’s ruling Liberal Democrat Party. Suga has pledged to maintain Abenomics and seems to be causing few ripples in the market.

He will only have a year to make an impact though before the next elections are scheduled – he could choose to call a snap election to shore up his support, but the coronavirus might get in the way.

The Nikkei 225 edged up 0.65%, while the yen was steady against the dollar at 106.

M&A activity is rising and there are deals aplenty – TikTok seems to be heading the way of Oracle, whose chairman is a Trump support, whilst SoftBank is offloading Cambridge-based Arm to Nvidia.

Meanwhile Gilead, whose remdesivir antiviral is treating Covid-19 patients, is buying Immunomedics for $21bn. With vast sums of private equity to be deployed, there may be a slew of deals and takeovers as we head into the autumn.

Brexit and Federal Reserve to weigh on cable, gold rangebound

In FX, ongoing talks between the UK and EU look set to be the chief driver for GBP crosses. However, a Federal Reserve meeting this week will impact the USD side of cable. There is not a new to say about the Brexit talks after last week – we await to see whether the discussions can get any further.

Usual headline risks to cable, but GBPUSD could get squeezed higher absent of any negative news. GBPUSD traded at 1.2840 in early trade having made a firm near-term base at the 200-day EMA at 1.2750. Downtrend still in force until the 1.30 handle is recovered.

Elsewhere, gold is still trading in a very narrow range around the $1940 level. US breakevens have come down a bit, US 10s are hunkered in around 0.66% and real rates (10-year TIPS) have just come down a touch.

Remember it’s Fed week. The Federal Reserve convenes on September 15th and 16th for the first time since Jerome Powell signalled that the central bank would be prepared to tolerate higher inflation as a trade-off for a swifter economic recovery and jobs growth.

Unemployment has fallen since the pandemic peak but is not improving quickly enough. The Fed is not expected to announce any fresh policy change but will reinforce Powell’s message from Jackson Hole on the policy shift.

Indeed the main focus for the Fed right now is actually not monetary policy but fiscal as members await any move in Washington to deliver a fresh stimulus package.

Global equities up on vaccine, trade hope

You just can’t keep ‘em down: Stocks surged again as vaccine hopes and positive language around US-China trade lifted the boats. The S&P 500 closed at a new record high at 3,431, led by Energy and Financials, two of the most beaten-up sectors, with Technology and Healthcare were at the bottom.  European stocks caught a strong bid with the major bourses rallying around 2% on Monday. Asian markets followed the lead overnight, with Tokyo up more than 1% and although Shanghai and Hong Kong were a tad weaker.

Germany Q2 GDP slump revised, European stocks firm

Today, the narrative is much the same as yesterday. European stocks continued to advance with gains of around 1% as risk sentiment remained robust after official figures showed Germany’s economy shrank less than previously thought in the second quarter. The numbers are still terrible: output declined by –9.7%, but this was an improvement on the –10.1% drop in the original release. Germany’s Ifo business survey showed sentiment is on the rise too.

The euro caught some bid after these two releases to advance above 1.1830 and test trend resistance having come under a bit of pressure yesterday evening again as the near-term downtrend remains the dominant force. Yesterday’s high at 1.1850 is the bulls’ target and this needs to be cleared to suggest the bears have lost control.

The DAX rose above 13,200 to take it near the post-trough high at 13,313 hit on July 21st. The FTSE 100 advanced towards 6,200 with beaten up travel & leisure stocks among the leaders. Both pared gains after the first hour of trading however. US futures point to further gains on Wall Street.

Apple continues to surge, US and Chinese officials discuss trade

Apple shares rose over $500 as investors continued to pile in and analysts noted that its forward earnings multiples are not that rich after all, and certainly not as expensive as rivals. Apple has transformed itself from a pure hardware manufacturer to a full service led tech platform and therefore the stock has rerated.

Top US and Chinese officials discussed the phase one trade agreement after a meeting scheduled for earlier this month was postponed. Both sides are seeing progress in areas like the increase in purchases of US products by China.

The two sides also discussed how China will ensure greater protection for intellectual property rights, remove impediments to American companies in the areas of financial services and agriculture, and eliminate forced technology transfer, the US Trade Representative said in a statement. This came after the US and EU agreed to reduce tariffs on some goods.

AstraZeneca begins antibody trials, economists concerned over double-dip recession

Meanwhile vaccine news is still helping rather than hindering risk sentiment. AstraZeneca said today it has begun the phase one clinical trial of its monoclonal antibody combination for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. However, Hong Kong has reported its first confirmed coronavirus re-infection, with a man found to have been infected months apart by different strains of the virus.

Economists remain concerned about the double dip: according to the National Association for Business Economics, there is a one in four chance the US economy could fall into a double-dip recession. Two-thirds of economists surveyed think the world’s largest economy remains in recession.

Republican convention kicks off with warnings of election rigging

President Trump got the Republican convention off to a belligerent start as he warned of a rigged election as he sought to cast doubt over the voting process ahead of the election. I don’t think the market really needs to worry about there not being a smooth handover of power, but I would think that a close result could see Trump launch multiple legal challenges which would create the kind of uncertainty markets don’t like.

Elsewhere, gold continues within the near-term downtrend but is yet to make a new low since the $1911 trough last week and is catching support from the longer-term rising trend line. US real rates (10yr TIPS) slipped further into negative territory again.

BT shares leap as European equities trade higher

Still no love for Europe? Equity indices in Europe dropped last week as risk appetite waned into the weekend, whilst US stocks closed Friday at record highs, albeit the rally since the March lows has been very uneven – all the chatter over the weekend was about a K-shaped recovery.

Can beaten down value stocks catch up? With Europe lacking a lot of the high-quality tech and growth names, it may struggle until there is a vaccine, the pandemic is over, and dividends are reinstated. Short-term the price action in stock indices seems more down to the individual narrative of the day or week.

Stocks up as markets focus on Covid-19 treatment and vaccine news

Today it’s positive. European equities took the cue from a strong Asian session and pushed higher on Monday morning, with the narrative centring on treatment and vaccine news. Donald Trump is said to be mulling fast-tracking AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate, whilst the FDA issued an emergency use authorisation for using plasma from recovered patients to treat Covid-19. Shares in AstraZeneca rose 2% in early trade.

Meanwhile, the US and EU have struck a ‘mini’ deal to cut tariffs on a range of items, which marks an important de-escalation of trade tensions that has dogged relations for many months.

BT surges as it readies takeover defence

BT shares leapt 7% after reports it is seeking to bolster its defences against a possible takeover. At a valuation of £10bn, the group has become a definite target. And whilst BT has a lot of legacy baggage – notably £18bn in net debt and a major pension deficit – it’s also got the Openreach crown jewel, which would be worth considerably more on its own than the group is valued today.

Of course, there is no formal offer, but shares could jump further if one emerges. Deutsche Telekom, which owns 12% in BT, is seen as a likely candidate. The question is whether there could be more bombed out UK-listed stocks that could be taken out by a timely takeover…perennial rumour-favourite ITV, for instance?

Deadlocked Brexit talks weigh on Sterling

Elsewhere, sterling made a push higher last week, but the dollar came back. Brexit talks did not go very well and there was virtually zero progress on some key elements. The failure to break the long-term weekly trend resistance makes GBPUSD susceptible to further pull backs, with a gravestone doji weekly candle also a bearish indicator. Support kicked in at 1.3060 on Friday and offers the near-term test for bears.

Bulls will require a weekly close above the trend line to be confident. EURUSD failed to overcome 1.1960 and pulled back to 1.1760 where it has found support. A further rise in EUR net long positions to almost 200k contracts evident in Friday’s COT report from the CFTC indicates extremely bullish positioning that may be too crowded and liable to a squeeze lower. GBP speculative positioning turned net long from net short for the first time since April.

What we’re watching this week:

Republican convention fires campaign starting pistol

The Democrats seem to have got through their set-piece without a hiccup. Now over to Trump and co for the Republican convention, which will not only mark the starting pistol for this year’s presidential run, but also the race for the 2024 GOP candidate. Market attention will increasingly come around to the November presidential race with barely over two months left until polling day.

Vix futures indicate investors are starting to position for more volatility as the election approaches and we should be prepared for a decent nudge higher in volatility and swing lower for stocks over the next two months. This is will be the last major set piece event before the first presidential debate on September 29th.

Jackson Hole

A confusion of central bankers convene in Wyoming online for the annual Jackson Hole Symposium. This year’s virtual theme is “Navigating the Decade Ahead: Implications for Monetary Policy”. I could answer that in one sentence: lower for longer, outright debt monetization, force inflation up to clear debts. But I’m not a central banker, although I would go to Jackson Hole for the trout fishing.

Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell speaks on Thursday just a few moments before the US cash equity on Wall Street. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem follows and Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey speaks on the Friday. Given the way the minutes of the Fed’s July meeting rocked risk appetite and checked the bulls’ progress, this will offer a chance to catch up on where the Fed one month on with its mid-September FOMC meeting in focus.

Economic data to watch

There is a lot of economic data to get through this week, notably some Q2 GDP second estimates for the US among others. On Tuesday we are looking at the US CB consumer confidence report.  Wednesday sees the weekly crude oil inventories report as well as US durable goods orders and Australian construction activity. On Thursday the US weekly initial jobless claims number gets released, after last week’s disappointing print of 1.1m. Look also at the pending home sales and preliminary (second estimate) GDP numbers.

More US data rounds out the week on Friday with the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the core PCE price index; personal spending; University of Michigan consumer sentiment; and the Chicago PMI on the slate.

Earnings to watch

Ad titan WPP reports it interim results for the six months ended June 30th on Thursday. The advertising giant is a useful barometer of economic confidence. Big brands have slashed marketing budgets to cope with pandemic and WPP has warned of the hit it will take this year.

But rival Publicis reported a 13-% drop in second quarter like-for-like sales, which was well ahead of the –20% anticipated. Shares in WPP are down over 40% this year – could Publicis offer a clue as whether the stock may find a new course? Does WPP see ad spend picking up? How has the Facebook boycott impacted it?

We are also interested in recruiter Hays – which reports finals on Thursday and is often a great indicator as to the overall health of the labour market globally. Salesforce.com(CRM) is expected to deliver earnings and revenue growth when it reports numbers for the quarter ended July on Tuesday. EPS is seen at $0.7 on revenues of $4.9bn.

Don’t become immune to what’s going on

We all want a vaccine to Covid-19 to be made, but let’s not become immune to the bad data. It’s very easy to be inoculated against the collapse in economic activity because we’ve had nothing but bad news for 6 months; what you could term the ‘new normal’.

Just as we are at risk of sleepwalking into a lower level of existence, worse education outcomes for our children, persistently lower incomes and reduced social interactions against our will, it’s far too easy to watch the economic data and think it’s not so bad after all. The truth is it remains shocking and will get worse.

UK debt rises, Spanish firms teeter on the brink of collapse

UK debt has risen above £2 trillion, or 100.5% of GDP. This need not be a problem in itself – governments in control of their own currency don’t need to ‘pay it back’ by returning to austerity and raising taxes. One in eight UK workers remains on furlough. Meanwhile 25% of Spanish businesses are in a ‘technical bankruptcy’, it was reported this morning. Germany wants to furlough workers for years, which would lead to a lost generation of zombie employees working at zombie companies. It needn’t be this way.

Weakness in US labour market highlights recovery obstacles

It was a soft initial claims print from the US Department of Labor – over 1.1m vs the sub-one-million number expected, which highlights the lumpy nature of the recovery now that the easy wins are behind us. However, the number of continuing claims and the unemployment rate were better.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 10.2% for the week ending August 8th, a decrease of 0.4 percentage points from the previous week’s 10.6%. Continuing claims were down over 600k to 14.8m, which was a tad better than the 15m anticipated. Giving with one hand but taking away with the other, but jobless claims are still extraordinarily high.

Wall Street hooked on stimulus

Of course, stocks don’t really care much. The Federal Reserve has successfully killed off bear markets as comprehensively as the passenger pigeon. If we define a bear market as when the S&P 500 declines 20% from its previous peak and ends when it reaches a trough and then subsequently rises 20%, then the 2020 bear market was by far and away the shortest on record.

The FTSE 100, which is a much better proxy for economic growth than the US markets are, has languished and is struggling to hold onto the 6,000 level this morning. Indeed equity markets in Europe were mixed after a solid session in Asia. Wall Street was a little higher yesterday as investors continue to hold grimly to record highs.

Eurozone PMIs undershoot expectations

A slew of Eurozone PMIs disappointed. Confidence in France seemed a good deal weaker than expected. The Manufacturing PMI fell under 50, indicating businesses are less confident than they were the previous month. Rising Covid cases in Europe and worries about a big second wave were cited. Germany’s survey was more positive but still fell short of expectations. PMIs may show lots more confidence, or they may not. But as detailed in the week ahead, there is so much wrong with these diffusion indices that we should be paying too much attention to them.

European equity indices opened higher, dropped sharply after the French miss and recovered on the more robust German figures. The euro fell on the softer-than-forecast PMIs, while sterling was close to its recent highs after putting in a strong session yesterday afternoon and overnight in Asian trade. Cable was a little softer having risen as high as 1.32550.

Equity markets eye European Covid count, US postal ballots become electoral flash point

Dog days on animal farm: it’s a very quiet start to the session with European indices trading either side of the flatline in the first hour as traders eye the rise in coronavirus cases across the continent. Basic resources, healthcare and tech were higher, offsetting broad weakness in the rest of the market with travel stocks leading the losses.

Europe’s rising Covid-19 cases cause investor alarm

As noted in the week ahead, the number of new Covid-19 cases across Europe is the number one thing to watch in the coming days as it has the potential to send nascent economic recovery into reverse. Germany has extended travel warnings to nearly all of Spain, which while making it easier to grab a sun lounger is taking the shine off travel and leisure stocks again this morning. IAG and TUI both fell another 3-4%, with EasyJet down more than 2%.

A sharp rise in cases in Spain, France and Germany will make traders nervous about new lockdowns and ensure that local equity markets remain volatile. Nevertheless, basic resources stocks registered strong gains in early trade to offset much of the losses elsewhere.

US stocks tried many times but failed last week to notch a record intraday high, falling shy of the Feb 19th peak at 3,393.52 several times. The problem is that this is not a simple bull market, with the split between growth and value plain to see. All stock sectors are equal, but some are more equal than others.

US data mixed, stimulus talks going nowhere fast

Last week, US retail sales were soft, although ex-autos the number was better than expected. Unemployment claims fell below 1m for the first time. However a stimulus bill has not been discussed by Congress and with the end of the $600-a-week stimulus cheques, there may be a tougher time ahead for consumers and companies dependent on them – 70% of the US economy is consumer driven, so the loss of this additional income will be hard felt.

Unless a stimulus package is agreed, stock markets may need to take corrective action. Even if bears don’t take control, a pullback from the all-time high to consolidate gains before bulls mount a fresh drive higher should also be considered.

Asia moves higher despite cancelled US-China trade talks

Asian markets were broadly higher on Monday but shares in Tokyo fell 0.8% as figures showed Japan’s economy shrank by the most on record in the second quarter, declining 7.8%. This works out at -27.8% annualised, which makes it the sharpest downturn since 1980 when such records began. It’s also the third straight quarter of contraction. We also note that Tesla’s new registrations in China fell to 11,623 units in July, down from 15,529, which may indicate a slower rate of recovery in the world’s second largest economy.

US-China trade talks slated for Saturday did not happen with sources blaming scheduling conflicts and a desire to give China time to increase its purchase of US exports. Meanwhile, in Washington developments around the November election are starting to heat up. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on the House of Representatives from recess to vote on a bill to ‘protect’ the US Postal Service, accusing President Trump of a “campaign to sabotage the election”.

Election officials are worried about delays that could mean ballots are not counted – a huge amount of extra demand this year because of Covid-19. Donald Trump doesn’t trust mail-in voting and has previously said he would block additional funding for the USPS. In short, Covid-19 has created a vast amount of extra demand for postal ballots and the White House recognises these are more likely to be Democrat votes.

Meanwhile the Democrat convention gets underway on Monday and lasts until Thursday, marking the end of the phoney war and start of the campaign proper. Watch for a speech from Kamala Harris, the VP candidate, on Wednesday, with Joe Biden to speak on Thursday.

GBP/USD in focus as Brexit talks resume

Brexit talks resume this week and the European Commission fired the opening salvo in the exchange, with executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis warning that the City will have to wait beyond the end of the year for equivalence. Talks between the UK and EU resume on Tuesday. Last week David Frost, the UK lead negotiator, said that a deal ‘can’ be reached in September, and that the UK was not interested in threatening the EU’s single market.

However he also reiterated that Britain would never compromise on the jurisdiction of the courts nor on fishing rights. There is significant headline risk for GBP this week as August rolls on. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal as far as sterling is concerned. GBPUSD was trading above 1.31 with the dollar offered across the board and the dollar index taking a 92 handle.

Stocks surge as Russia claims to have a Covid-19 vaccine

Stocks have leapt higher today after Russia claimed that it had registered the world’s first vaccine for the new coronavirus.

The Dow has climbed over 350 points higher and the S&P 500 has risen to within touching distance of the all-time high set in February. European stocks have held on to this morning’s gains.

Conversely, safe-haven precious metals are getting hammered, with gold now down over -4% at $1,940.00 and silver crashing -7% to $27.00.

Putin announces registration of world’s first coronavirus vaccine

President Putin claims that the virus works ‘quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, has passed all the necessary checks’. He also said that one of his daughters has been given the vaccine.

The vaccine has undergone clinical trials, which have been completed in under two months. Phase three trials are expected to start on Wednesday and will involve countries including the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

The vaccine will be called ‘Sputnik V’ in overseas markets. The Russian Direct Investment Firm, Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, is backing the production of the vaccine and claims that over 20 countries have filed preliminary applications for a total of over 1 billion doses so far.

Doubts over Russian vaccine claims

While Putin has hailed the Russian breakthrough and stocks have moved sharply higher, the news has been met with scepticism elsewhere.

A spokesman for the World Health Organisation cautiously said that the body was in contact with Russia about the “possible pre-qualification process for a Covid-19 candidate vaccine which requires rigorous review”.

And former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner and Pfizer board member Dr Scott Gottlieb told CNBC today that, compared to the US efforts, Russia’s vaccine development is ‘certainly not ahead’.

‘They’ve cleared the equivalent, really, of a Phase 1 clinical trial in terms of putting it in 100 to maybe as many as 300 patients so it needs to be evaluated in a large-scale clinical trial,’ Gottlieb said.

Regardless of any cautious noises, markets are powering higher, with investors perhaps repricing their expectations for how far out a working vaccine is.

US Election, Recession, Brexit: What’s in store for markets in 2020 H2?

The first half of 2020 has been a wild ride. We’ve seen unprecedented moves in markets, historic stimulus efforts by both central banks and governments, and record-breaking data that grabbed headlines across the globe.

H1 has already brought plenty of drama, but what should we expect from the next two quarters? Join us for a recap of some of the biggest events in market history and a look at the risks and opportunities that lie ahead.

Coronavirus pandemic prompts worst quarter in decades for stocks

At the start of 2020 the main themes of the year looked to be the US Presidential Election, the trade war with China, and Brexit.

It seems like years ago that markets began to get jittery on fears that the handful of novel coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China, could become something ‘as bad as SARS’. It quickly became apparent that we were dealing with something much worse, and the market was quick to realise the full, brutal, reality of a global pandemic.

The panic reached its zenith towards the end of March. As the sell-off ran out of momentum global stock markets were left -21.3% lower. The S&P 500 had its worst quarter since 2008; the Dow dropped the most since 1987 and set a new record for the biggest single-day gain (2,117 points) and single-day loss (2,997 points). European stocks had their worst quarter since 2002, with a -23% drop in Q1.

Oil turns negative for first time in history after Saudi Arabia sparks price war

Things became even more chaotic in the oil markets when, after OPEC and its allies failed to agree a pandemic response, Saudi Arabia opened the floodgates and slashed prices of its crude oil exports. Oil prices endured the biggest single-day collapse since the Gulf War – over -24%.

It was further strain for a market now seriously considering the risk that shuttered economies across the globe would hit demand so hard that global storage would hit capacity. The May contract for West Texas Intermediate went negative – a first for oil futures – changing hands for almost -$40 ahead of expiry.

Meanwhile US 10-year treasury yields hit record lows of 0.318%, and gold climbed to its highest levels in seven years, pushing even higher in Q2.

Economies locked down, central banks crank up stimulus

Nations across the globe ordered their citizens to remain at home, taking the unprecedented step to voluntarily put huge swathes of their economies on ice for weeks. Even when lockdown measures were eased, the new normal of social distancing, face masks, and plastic screens left many businesses operating at a fraction of their normal capacity.

The world’s central banks were quick to step in during the height of market volatility and continued to do so as the forecasts for the economic impact of the pandemic grew even more grim. The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand all dropped rates to close to zero. Along with the European Central Bank, they unleashed enormous quantitative easing programmes, as well as other lending measures to help support businesses.

Unprecedented stimulus as unemployment spikes

Governments stepped in to pay the wages of furloughed employees as unemployment spiked – the US nonfarm payrolls report for April showed a jaw-dropping 20.5 million Americans had become unemployed in a single month. In the space of just six weeks America had erased all the job gains made since the financial crisis. The bill for US stimulus measures is currently $2 trillion, and is set to go higher when further measures are approved.

While most of the data may be improving, we’re still yet to see just how bad the GDP figures for Q2 are going to be. These, which will be released in the coming weeks, will show just how big a pit we have to dig ourselves out of.

H2: Recovery, US election, trade wars, Brexit

Markets may have recovered much of the coronavirus sell-off – US and European stocks posted their best quarter in decades in Q2 – but the world is still walking a fine line between reopening its economies and fending off the pandemic. Second wave fears abound. In the US in particular, economic data is largely pointing to a sharp rebound in activity, but at the same time Covid-19 case numbers are consistently smashing daily records.

These key competing bullish and bearish factors threaten to keep markets walking a tightrope in the quarters to come. Because of this, progress in the race to find a vaccine is closely watched. Risk is still highly sensitive to news of positive drug trials. The sooner we get a vaccine, the sooner life can return to normal, even if the world economy still has a long way to go before it returns to pre-crisis levels.

US Presidential Election: Trump lags in polls, Biden threatens to reverse tax cuts

The biggest talking point on the market in the coming months, aside from coronavirus, will undoubtedly be the US Presidential Election. The stakes are incredibly high, especially for the US stock market, and Democrat nominee Joe Biden intends to reverse the bulk of the sweeping tax cuts implemented by president Donald Trump.

Trump is currently lagging in the polls, with voters unimpressed by his response to the pandemic and also to the protests against police brutality that swept the nation. The president has long taken credit for the performance of the stock market and the economy, so for the latter to be facing a deep recession robs him of one of his key topics on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden may currently have a significant lead, but there is a long time to go until the polls, and anything could happen yet.

China trade war in focus, Hong Kong law adds fresh complications

The trade war with China would be a focus for the market anyway, but will come under increasing scrutiny in the run-up to the election. Thanks to Covid-19, anti-China sentiment is running high in the United States. This means Biden will also have to talk tough on China, which could mean that the damaging trade war is set to continue regardless of who wins the White House this time around.

Tensions have already risen on the back of China’s passing of a new Hong Kong security law, and coronavirus makes it virtually impossible that the terms of the Phase One trade agreement hashed out by Washington and Beijing will be carried out. Trump may be forced to stick with the deal, because abandoning it would leave him unable to flaunt his ability to make China toe the line during the presidential race. This would be positive for risk – markets were already rattled by fears that the president’s response to the Hong Kong law would include abandoning the deal.

How, when, and if: Unwinding stimulus

Even if we get a vaccine before the end of the year and global economies do rebound sharply, the vast levels of government and central bank stimulus will need to be addressed. Governments are running wartime levels of debt.

We’re looking at an even longer slog back to normalised monetary policy – something that banks like the Bank of England and the European Central Bank were struggling to reach even before Covid. There will be huge quantitative easing programmes to unwind and interest rates to lift away from zero, or potentially even out of negative territory.

Markets have been able to recover thanks to a steady cocktail of government and central bank stimulus. The years since the financial crisis have proven that it is incredibly difficult to wean markets and the economy off stimulus. There could be some tough decisions ahead, especially as governments begin to consider how they plan to repair their finances in the years to come.

Brexit deadline approaches, impasse remains

There is also Brexit to consider. While the coronavirus forced officials to move their negotiations online, little else seems to have happened so far. Both sides are refusing to budge and both sides are claiming that the other is being unreasonable. The UK does not want an extension to the transition period, and the two sides are running out of time to agree a trade deal.

We’ve seen before that both Downing Street and Brussels like to wait until the last possible moment to soften their stance. However, the risks here are higher because before there was always the prospect of another extension.

The last time negotiations were extended the battle in Westminster shocked the UK to its constitutional core. The Conservative landslide victory of 2019 gave Boris Johnson a much stronger hand this time around – the UK will leave in December, regardless of the situation.

Stay on top of the biggest events in H2

Whatever happens in the coming months, we’ll be here to bring you the latest news and analysis of the top developments and market events via the blog and XRay.

Coronavirus outbreaks leave stocks stuck in their ranges

Virus outbreaks in the US continue to weigh on the mood, as it suggests the run-up in stocks on hopes of a V-shaped economic recovery may be overly optimistic. Several states, mainly in the south, have been forced to re-impose lockdown restrictions after being the first to reopen. Dr Fauci described it as a ‘serious problem’. The dangers of reopening too quickly seem all too apparent, but investors are also keeping an eye on outbreaks in Tokyo, Australia and China.

European equities were a touch softer but trading near the flatline on Monday morning, with a general lack of direction about today’s trade. Major indices tracking around the middle of their June ranges after Asian equities fell. US equities were lower Friday and finished down for the week but, as the month ends, stocks have enjoyed a very strong quarter.

The FTSE 100 is up over 8% quarter-to-date, while the S&P 500 has rallied over 16% in Q2 and the DAX has surged 21%. Valuations remain the concern as we head into earnings season with the S&P 500 still trading at more than 22x on a forward basis.

Coming up this week – Powell testimony, US nonfarm payrolls

Of course stocks haven’t only rallied because of reopening economies – enormous liquidity thanks to the coordinated action of central banks has been key. Central bankers have been striking similar notes in terms of the response to the crisis and Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, will testify in Congress again this week. The Fed’s rather downbeat assessment of the economic recovery helped to stop the rally in its tracks and since then indices have been trading ranges.

The US jobs report – on Thursday this week due to the July 4th holiday – will provide an important view on the pace of recovery, but we should note that the weekly unemployment claims numbers are proving a more sensitive and up-to-date barometer, not least since there are problems with the data gathering for the monthly nonfarms report.

Facebook shares tumble on ad boycott, but how long can brands stay away?

Facebook shares tumbled more than 8% on Friday as a growing number of companies join a boycott of the platform over hate speech. We saw how a boycott of Facebook by users failed to move the needle on earnings, but this time it’s different – it’s the big brands that pay the big bucks and the loss of Unilever, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Levi’s and Diageo among others will create a headwind to revenue growth in the coming quarter.

I would think Facebook can and will do a lot more and will be able to take steps to assuage brands’ concerns, allowing the stock to recover. Moreover, will brands be able to avoid Facebook for very long? Virtue signalling is one thing, but they also need to shift product.

Crude oil was steady with WTI (Aug) around $38 after rallying off the medium-term support around $37.50. OPEC+ compliance in June is expected to be higher than in May, mainly because Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE are cutting above their quotas. In FX, cable continues to track its channel lower with a new low put in at 1.2315, with the previous support in the 1.2390 region now acting as resistance.

Adelanto semanal: Acusado repunte de los bienes duraderos en EE. UU., y auge del sentimiento y del PMI

Encuestas del sentimiento de consumidores y empresas de la zona del euro

Estaremos muy pendientes de los últimos datos del sentimiento en Alemania y en el conjunto de la zona del euro. Se espera que la relajación de las restricciones derivadas del confinamiento y la reapertura de más negocios contribuya a mejorar el sentimiento tanto de los consumidores como de las empresas, aunque huelga decir que ambos grupos aún mantienen un alto nivel de pesimismo.

El avance de los datos de sentimiento de los consumidores en la zona del euro relativo a junio previsiblemente mejorará del -18,8 de mayo al -16. Se prevé que el índice de clima empresarial del Ifo alemán ascienda hasta 85,1 desde el 79,5 anterior. Por su parte, se espera que la medición del sentimiento de los consumidores del GfK alemán se sitúe en -12 en julio, tras el -18,9 registrado en junio.

El avance de los PMI permite determinar las expectativas para el PIB del 2T

El martes trae consigo un aluvión de avances de los PMI manufacturero y de servicios. La zona del euro, Reino Unido y Estados Unidos publicarán los últimos datos previstos. Aunque están sujetos a revisión, las últimas cifras contribuirán a pulir las expectativas en torno a los imprescindibles datos del PIB del 2T.

En general, se esperan acusados aumentos gracias a que la reapertura de las economías favorece la ralentización de la caída del sector servicios en concreto.

Repunte de los pedidos de bienes duraderos en EE. UU.

Después de asistir hace poco al enorme salto en el empleo y en las ventas al por menor que echaron por tierra las expectativas, parece probable que los datos de pedidos de bienes duraderos en EE. UU. de esta semana también muestren un considerable repunte.

Como con la mayoría de datos, los pedidos colapsaron durante los dos últimos meses a un ritmo que no se veía desde hace años. La reapertura de la economía estadounidense y la mejora de las perspectivas para algunos consumidores y empresas puede que se traduzca en un acusado repunte. Según las previsiones de los analistas, los pedidos aumentarán un 7,1 % aunque, al igual que ocurre con todos los repuntes tras una brusca caída, aún queda mucho camino por recorrer hasta volver a los niveles previos a la crisis.

Los datos sobre las solicitudes de los subsidios de desempleo también se publicarán este martes. El consenso apunta a otra desaceleración en el crecimiento de las solicitudes, ya que se esperan otras 1,3 millones de solicitudes nuevas. Este dato supondría la primera vez que las nuevas solicitudes semanales bajan de la cota de los 1,5 millones desde el histórico ascenso de 6,86 millones registrado la última semana de marzo.

Mayor gasto personal en EE. UU. durante la desescalada y aumento del empleo

La renta personal aumentó bruscamente en abril con una subida del 10,5 % gracias a los programas de ayuda del gobierno, aunque no se tradujo en un aumento del gasto por parte de los consumidores, ya que le gasto cayó un 13,6 %. En su lugar, los consumidores guardaron este dinero extra, tal y como refleja el ascenso de la tasa de ahorro del 33 % el mes pasado.

Sin la ayuda de la considerable ayuda gubernamental, se espera que las rentas desciendan un 5 % en mayo, mientras que el gasto previsiblemente ascienda un 3 %.

Lo más destacado en XRay esta semana

Descubra toda la programación de formación y los análisis del mercado financiero.

07.15 UTC Daily European Morning Call
17.00 UTC 22-Jun Reading Candlestick Charts: Trading Patterns and Trends
From 15.30 UTC 23-Jun Weekly Gold, Silver, and Oil Forecasts
17.00 UTC 23-Jun Introduction to Currency Trading – Is it For Me?
14.45 UTC 25-June Master the Market with Andrew Barnett

 

Acontecimientos económicos clave

No se pierda las principales citas del calendario económico de esta semana:

14.00 UTC 22-Jun Eurozone Flash Consumer Confidence
07.15 UTC 23-Jun Eurozone/ DE/ FR Flash Services, Manufacturing PMIs
08.30 UTC 23-Jun UK Flash Manufacturing/Services PMIs
13.45 UTC 23-Jun US Flash Manfacturing/Services PMI
03.00 UTC 24-Jun RBNZ Interest Rate Decision
08.00 UTC 24-Jun German ifo Business Climate
14.30 UTC 24-Jun US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
06.00 UTC 25-Jun German GfK Consumer Climate
12.30 UTC 25-Jun US Durable Goods Orders
00.30 UTC 25-Jun US Unemployment Claims
14.30 UTC 25-Jun US EIA Natural Gas Storage
Pre-Market 25-Jun Accenture Plc – Q3 2020, McCormick & Co – Q2 2020
12.30 UTC 26-Jun US PCE, Personal Spending, Personal Income
14.00 UTC 26-Jun Revised University of Michigan Sentiment Index

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