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Markets steady as economic toll mounts

Markets steady as economic toll mounts

Markets traded steadily overnight despite a raft of data that illustrated massive economic damage in the wake of the coronavirus containment measures. European and US PMIs showed the services component of economies continue to contract at an unprecedented rate, and the US recorded an eye-popping 4.4 million jobless claims this week.

European shares rose despite the gloomy reports, and US shares finished flat as the company reporting season approaches the quarter way mark. The overall earnings drop so far is around 17%, about 5% worse than expected, although sales across the 120 SPX reports so far are up around 2%.

Futures markets point to a similar flattish to positive day for Asia Pacific share markets.

Bonds and gold rallied again. The support for haven assets is an indication of ongoing concern in some investment quarters. The yellow metal is within 1% of an eight year high, although bulls may take comfort from gains for industrial metals. Shanghai copper (+2.2%) and London nickel (+1.3%) led the complex higher. The lift may be related to a second day of gains for crude oil after Tuesday’s record-breaking lows.

Currency markets are remarkably quiet, and the US dollar index closed close to the middle of a 65 bip range. Commodity currencies largely failed to respond to the lift in oil and metal prices, and cryptocurrencies dropped, led by a 2.4% fall in Ethereum.

Japanese inflation data dropped in line with expectations this morning, with a core reading T 0.6% for March. Singapore unemployment (forecast 2.6%) and industrial production numbers (f/c +2.8% for March, -4.9% pa) are in focus, although traders may follow international leads and shrug off the releases.

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