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Shares rise despite dreadful data

Shares rise despite dreadful data

Northern hemisphere share markets rose overnight despite plummeting German and French industrial production and more than 3.1 million new US jobless claims this week. Base metals also moved higher as traders and investors apparently focussed on moves towards lifting virus containment measures. The Nasdaq index is now positive for 2020.

Currencies moved with shares. The safer haven Japanese yen and US dollar softened, and commodity currencies rose, led by the Norwegian Kroner. Cryptocurrencies also found favour, with Bitcoin topping the US $10,000 mark for the first time since February.

Interest rate markets are less convinced. Bonds rallied in Europe and the US, and short end markets now indicate a 28% probability of the US Federal Reserve moving cash rates into negative territory. Gold rallied above US$1,700, in a further indication that not all market participants are optimistic about the growth outlook.

The rally in US shares is notable for its divergence from the weaker first quarter earnings reported, and analysts revising earnings estimates for this year down by around 25% across the top 500 companies.

Futures markets indicate Asia Pacific investors are less enthusiastic than their European and US peers.  The Nikkei and Australia 200 indices are in positive territory, but Singapore is looking at a flat opening and the Hang Seng index is down.

Final reads on Japan’s April PMIs are due today, but the market data focus is the US non-farm payrolls tonight. After last night’s jobless claims, consensus has crept higher to an estimated loss of 21.9 million jobs, and an unemployment rate of 16%. However given the way many markets disregarded clear evidence of further economic damage overnight, market responses are more difficult to predict.

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