Stock markets rallied yesterday on hopes about a possible vaccine for the coronavirus. 

There were two stories doing the rounds in relation to a potential Covid-19 drug. Moderna, a US-listed pharma company, achieved positive results from its early stage human trial. On the home front, the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca are working together on a potential vaccine, and yesterday there was chatter that things are going in the right direction. Nothing was announced, but it was speculated that there could be confirmation about the progress in the near-term, and that verification might even come today. Equity benchmarks on both sides of the Atlantic enjoyed decent gains, and some hit multi-week highs, while others set multi-month highs.

The pharma angle gave stocks a new lease of life as lately market participants have been fixated on the rate of new cases and the fatality rate. In the past week, we have also heard positive news from Gilead Sciences, Pfizer and BioNTech. Gilead’s, Remdesivir, can reduce the death rate by 62%, so that is being touted as a possible treatment. While two of the four drugs that Pfizer and BioNTech are working on as potential vaccines have been fast-tracked for FDA approval.

The optimism surrounding the drug stories overshadowed the news that China’s relationship with the US and the UK has deteriorated this week. The British government has banned Huawei from its 5G network. President Trump passed legislation that has removed Hong Kong’s special status, so the territory will lose out in terms of tariffs. In addition to that, the US government might seek to target individuals or organisations that are seen to be helping the Chinese government to impose itself on Hong Kong. The moves by the UK and the US stem from the decision by the Beijing administration to introduce a law that has chipped away at Hong Kong’s autonomy. Traders will be keeping an eye on the situation, but it seems that the Donald doesn’t want to spark a big economic conflict with China, probably because he has an election to fight in November and his approval ratings are not great. 

The US economy continues to rebound. The industrial production rate for June increased by 5.4%, and that was a big improvement from the 1.4% that was posted in May. The New York Fed manufacturing index jumped to 17.2 in July, a 14 month high. The reports suggest there is a lot of pent up demand, and that is being released as the economy is reopening. That level of growth is likely to taper off as it is unsustainable.

Overnight, China released a number of economic reports. The yearly GDP reading for the second quarter was 3.2%, and the consensus estimate was 2.5%. In the first quarter, the GDP reading was -6.8%. Retail sales in June were -1.8%, undershooting the 0.3% forecast, while the previous reading was -2.8%. Industrial production last month showed growth of 4.8%, and economists were expecting 4.7%. The May report was 4.4%. Fixed asset investment fell by 3.1%, and the forecast was -3.3%, keep in mind the last reading was -6.3%. Equity markets in Asia are in the red as there are concerns that spending and investment in China remains weak. Indices in Europe are expected to open a little lower.   

The ECB meeting will be in focus today. The refinancing rate and the deposit rate are tipped to hold steady at 0.0% and -0.5% respectively. Last month, the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) was upped by €600 billion to €1.35 trillion, and the scheme was extended from the end of 2020 until June 2021. The inflation and growth forecasts were trimmed. It is worth noting that there has been an impressive rebound in certain economic indicators, such as services and manufacturing. In late June, the bond purchases made as a part of the PEPP, cooled to its lowest level since the stimulus package was expanded. That could be a sign the ECB want to rein in the easing programme as the economy is recovering at a quicker rate than initially expected. Even if the central are happy with the economic rebound, they won’t want to spook the markets. They will probably play it safe and state they are monitoring the situation, and that they are ready to act, should they feel it is required. The rate decision will be revealed at 12 45pm (UK time) and the press conference will start at 1.30pm (UK time).    

The US dollar index fell to its lowest level in over one month yesterday as dealers dropped the greenback in favour of riskier assets, such as stocks. The euro benefitted from the slide in the greenback and it hit its highest level since March.

Metals were a mixed bag yesterday. Gold had a muted move, but it held above the $1,800 mark. Silver, benefitted from the softer greenback and it hit a new 10 month high. On the other hand, copper lost over 1.5%. The red metal had a great run from late March until now, and it is possible that dealers squared up their books ahead of the Chinese data being reported.  

The Fed’s Beige Book was posted last night and almost all of the 12 districts saw an increase in economic activity as lockdown restrictions were eased. The outlook remains very uncertain, especially in light of the fact that some states are undoing the reopening of their economies. 

Oil rallied yesterday on the back of the EIA report, it showed that US oil stockpiles dropped by nearly 7.5 million barrels, while the consensus estimate was for a draw of 2.25 million barrels. Gasoline inventories fell by 3.14 million barrels, and that was a larger drop than expected. The readings paint a picture of a US economy that is consuming more energy, hence the positive move in WTI and Brent crude.

At 7am (UK time) the UK labour reports will be released. The claimants count for June is tipped to fall to 250,000 from 528,900 in May. The unemployment rate is anticipated to rise to 4.2% in May, up from 3.9% in April. The average earnings reading that excludes bonuses is expected to fall to 0.5% in May, from 1.7% in April.

French CPI is tipped to slip to 0.1% in June from 0.4% in May. The report will be posted at 7.45am (UK time).

Traders will be keeping an eye on the various economic reports from the US. Initial jobless claims are tipped to fall from 1.31 million to 1.25 million. The continuing claims reading is anticipated to be 17.6 million, and keep in mind the previous reading was 18.06 million. The retail sales report for May was 17.7%, a record reading, and the June level is tipped to cool to 5%. The retail sales report that strips auto-sales is expected to be 5%, and that would be a fall from the 12.4% registered in May. The Philly Fed manufacturing index is tipped to be 20. The reports will be posted at 1.30pm (UK time).   

EUR/USD – since late June it has been in an uptrend, and a break above the 1.1400 zone might put 1.1495 on the radar. A break below the 1.1168 area might pave the way for 1.1053, the 200-day moving average, to be targeted.

GBP/USD – has been trading sideways in the past few sessions. A move higher might run into resistance at 1.2694, the 200-day moving average. A move through that level should put 1.2813 on the radar. Should it move lower, it might find support at 1.2424, the 100 day moving average.

EUR/GBP – Monday’s candle has the potential to be a bullish reversal, and if it moves higher it could target 0.9239. A break below the 50-day moving average at 0.8963, could put the 0.8800 zone on the radar.

USD/JPY – has been drifting lower for the last month and support could come into play at 106.00. A rebound might run into resistance at 108.37, the 200-day moving average. 

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