Markets rallied hugely Monday, with the S&500 up 7.7%, on the glimmer of hope that peak coronavirus cases could be realized in the next few weeks.
Investors were encouraged by data that shows a slowing in the number of daily U.S. coronavirus cases, although it is still early to determine a lasting trend. There were about 30,000 new cases on Thursday, 32,100 cases on Friday, 33,260 cases on Saturday, and then a slowing to just 28,200 new cases Sunday, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins.
Last week’s job report showed 701,000 jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate jumped to 4.4%. With plenty of more losses coming in the month ahead. Markets were volatile, yet down for the week, giving up some of the recent rally’s gains.
President Trump suggested Russia and OPEC would talk leading to a production agreement – which saw oil rally hugely too – yet tangible action has not been seen yet.
Assets of all types rallied further last week, following the US Congress passing a $2 trillion stimulus program, on the heels of unheralded Federal Reserve action.
US stocks have seen a bull market bounce of over +20% in the last week and half – but still remain down -20% or more for 2020.
President Trump announced another 30 days of restricted activities for Americans – as corporate America ramped to help produce needed supplies, employees of all types learned to work from home, quarantining showed its value, and peak deaths were modeled, and hoped, to occur within 2 weeks.
The past week’s historic U.S. policy actions initially helped stabilize markets. We believe they are paving the road for an eventual – and strong – economic and market rebound, once we better understand the scale and impact of the outbreak.
"That's when we're at our best—when we support each other..." Joaquin Phoenix:
· Facing a near-shut down of the US and global economy – the Federal Reserve 1st dropped interest rates to 0%, then unleashed unlimited quantitative easing programs to provide liquidity to international and domestic markets. The Fed will now buy treasuries, mortgage bonds, corporate bonds, municipal bonds – all in unlimited amounts if needed, to backstop the financial system.
· Not to be outdone the US Congress is putting together a near $2 trillion support program for US businesses and employees - the prospect of which has the US stock market up the most in one day since 2008 – nearly 11% as we go to print.
· President Trump is also now talking about a partial return to work, de-quarantine by Easter to the support of some business leaders and condemnation of some politicians, health officials, and CNN.
· These actions follow extreme market volatility, with indices down 30% or more and even bonds down 5-10% on massive selling to the perceived safety of cash and money funds.
· It’s been a tough 3 weeks, with more volatility to occur. We will be moving toward increasing our conservative weightings in stocks to modestly higher levels in days ahead as we come back to full risk targets over time – as we believe the pandemic and quarantine will pass and markets reflect ample fear and attractive valuations.
South Korean film Parasite may have won the Academy Award for Best Picture – but a parasite of another type – the coronavirus – has had even more ignominious success in causing death, despair and dented economic and capital markets so far this year.
Stocks responded positively to the Chinese government containment actions of the Coronavirus, limited exposures outside of China, and expectations of eventual antidotes to the ailment.
Additionally, positive corporate earnings have limited equity losses triggered by worries about the coronavirus outbreak in China and its potential economic impact.
Moderating trade tensions and still accommodative financial conditions are supportive of growth. We are likely to see renewed weakness in global manufacturing weakness due to the virus impact in upcoming data. A broader growth pickup may be delayed, with the virus impact likely concentrated in the first half of the year.
The ongoing U.S. Democratic Party primaries are unlikely to produce a clear leading presidential candidate any time soon, underscoring rising political uncertainties.