A look at the day ahead from chief correspondent emerging markets Karin Strohecker. The views expressed are her own.
It’s the morning after the day before, which saw a meltdown in financial markets when investors lost faith in policy intervention as the coronavirus laid siege to some of the world’s top economies. Indiscriminate selling on Wednesday sent stocks tumbling. The S&P fell some 5%, bond markets - including some top safe havens - collapsed, oil prices dived to 18-year lows and gold dropped as investors tried to flog whatever they could.
It’s a new dawn in Europe, but a turnaround looks tentative, despite more emergency central bank measures in Europe, Japan, the United States and Australia and London getting ready to lock down. The Swiss National Bank meets later today and could inject some more cash, although it’s not expected to cut rates.
Stock markets across Asia were nursing losses, with the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index down 5% as circuit breakers activated in Seoul, Jakarta and Manila. In Europe, markets are seeing wild swings in early trade before enjoying some gains: Paris is up 3.4%, Milan 4.3% higher and Frankfurt up 1.7%. London is a bit of a laggard, up 0.6%.
The coronavirus crisis is putting all sectors of the corporate world to the test, especially non-food retailers. But British clothing retailer Next jumped 2.1% after saying its balance sheet and margins will help it to weather the storm. Fiat Chrysler is the latest car maker to curb operations by suspending production in its North American manufacturing facilities. Airlines continue to suffer; Lufthansa predicted the industry may not survive without state aid. Its shares are up more than 7%. For our daily dose of positive news: UK online supermarket Ocado is seeing a boost in demand.
Wall Street futures point to a mixed performance for U.S. stocks later in the day. The Dow is expected to open 0.6% lower, but Nasdaq futures indicate a 1.3% rise. Some U.S. data out later could show just how dire things are: the Philly Fed manufacturing index is expected to tumble to 10 from 36.7 in February.
Fixed income markets in Europe did take some comfort from policy action. Government bond yields across the euro zone dropped after the European Central Bank stepped in with emergency stimulus measures to calm panicked markets. The Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), launched at an emergency meeting late Wednesday, will see new bond purchases worth 750 billion euros and take the total volume of purchases to 1.1 trillion euros this year, or 6% of the euro zone’s GDP; it will also include junk-rated Greek debt.
In early trade, Italian yields slid over 100 bps and the spread to German debt, which ballooned in recent sessions, has fallen back below 200 bps. Core yields also slid with German 10-year debt yields down over 10 bps this morning
In currency markets, the dollar held near a three-year high on Thursday as the appeal for the safe-haven currency remained strong in the Asian session. The pound held near its lows since 1985 while the Australian dollar held at a 17-month low. Only the euro was the notable outlier after the ECB’s decision to launch its asset-purchase program. (Editing by Larry King)
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