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Global Market Report - 15 May

Lex Hall  |  15 May 2020Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Australia

Shares on the Australian market are poised for a better start after US markets rallied overnight on economic recovery hopes.

The SPI 200 futures contract was higher 45 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 5,353.0 at 8am Sydney time on Friday, indicating a small gain in early trade.

Jeweller Michael Hill has told the ASX this morning it will join the throng of retailers re-opening from coronavirus closures.

The company said it will re-open nearly 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand from Saturday. The remainder will open over the coming month.

Michael Hill closed its 301 stores across the world in late March due to COVID-19 health concerns and few people shopping.

Meanwhile Virgin Australia's administrators at Deloitte will have a better sense of which parties are interested in buying the beleaguered airline, when non-binding indicative offers are made on Friday.

Nineteen parties interested in buying the airline, which entered voluntary administration last month, were granted access to a data room after signing confidentiality agreements as of Monday, according to an affidavit published by the Federal Court of Australia.

In the US overnight, Wall Street surged as investors weighed the prospect of economic recovery against bellicose remarks from President Donald Trump regarding US-China trade.

Comments by Trump blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak and revived trade war fears, even as mandated lockdowns continue to damage the economy.

That damage was in evidence in a report from the US Labor Department, which showed just under 3 million new jobless claims last week, pushing the seven-week tally well over 36 million.

A White House spokeswoman said Trump is open to another possible stimulus bill, but will not sign the bill put forward by House of Representatives Democrats.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 377.37 points, or 1.62 per cent, to 23,625.34, the S&P 500 gained 1.15 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.91 per cent, to 8,943.72.

The Australian dollar was buying 64.64 US cents at 8am, up from 64.37 US cents at the close of trade on Thursday.

Asia

Chinese shares closed lower on Thursday as investors worried about a prolonged recovery in the economy, while awaiting more active stimulus policies to cushion the blow from COVID-19.

The Shanghai Composite index ended 0.96 per cent lower at 2,870.34.

Hong Kong shares closed at their lowest in more than a week on Thursday, as a grim economic forecast from the head of the US Federal Reserve poured cold water on hopes for a quick recovery.

At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 350.56 points, or 1.45 per cent, at 23,829.74, the lowest since 4 May.

Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was weaker by 1.35 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei index closed down 1.74 per cent.

Europe

A wave of selling hit European shares on Thursday amid investor fears of a prolonged economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic, driving euro zone banks to all-time lows at one point.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 2.2 per cent to hit its lowest level since 22 April.

After recovering sharply from mid-March lows with help from massive stimulus actions, the STOXX 600 has shed about 4 per cent in May on worries that the early easing of lockdowns by certain countries will cause a second wave of infections.

Those fears were further heightened by the US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warning of a recession worse than any since World War Two and the World Health Organisation saying that the coronavirus may never go away.

Retailers, food & beverage companies and industrials led sectoral declines in Europe.

Euro STOXX 50 volatility index, also known as the stock market fear gauge, touched its highest level since 5 May.

Adding to market woes, US President Donald Trump said he was very disappointed in China over its failure to contain the coronavirus, saying the pandemic cast a pall over his trade deal with Beijing.

Trade-sensitive automakers dropped 2.8 per cent as Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot decided not to pay ordinary dividends for 2019.

Euro zone banks closed down 0.7 per cent after hitting a record low earlier in the session. The index is down nearly 50 per cent this year as surging loan losses due to the pandemic and a dividend payment freeze hit stock prices.

UK homebuilder Countryside Properties slumped 17.3 per cent to the bottom of the STOXX 600 as the closure of its sites and sales offices battered half-year revenue and profit.

Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins tumbled 10.9 per cent after it withdrew its forecast for 2020 due to the uncertainty stemming from the pandemic.

In contrast, pan-European exchange operator Euronext gained 2.6 per cent after reporting a 55 per cent jump in quarterly revenue, partly driven by heavy trading in March that has propped up profits for some brokerages.

North America

Wall Street surged on Thursday as investors weighed the prospect of economic recovery against bellicose remarks from President Donald Trump regarding US-China trade and a whistleblower’s dire warnings about the US response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While all three major US stock indexes ended the session solidly higher, they see-sawed for much of the day, with reopening state economies and the possibility of additional stimulus doing battle with revived trade war fears and bleak economic data.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the governor’s lockdown orders, fueling hopes that mandated restrictions could be lifted sooner rather than later.

But an ousted health official testified before a US House of Representatives panel that the US could face “the darkest winter” if its response to the pandemic failed to improve.

Comments by Trump late Wednesday blamed China for the coronavirus outbreak and revived trade war fears, even as mandated lockdowns continue to damage the economy.

That damage was in evidence in a report from the US Labor Department, which showed just under 3 million new jobless claims last week, pushing the seven-week tally well over 36 million.

A White House spokeswoman said Trump is open to another possible stimulus bill, but will not sign the bill put forward by House of Representatives Democrats.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 377.37 points, or 1.62 per cent, to 23,625.34, the S&P 500 gained 32.5 points, or 1.15 per cent, to 2,852.5 and the Nasdaq Composite added 80.55 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 8,943.72.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but consumer staples closed higher, with financials and energy companies enjoying the biggest percentage gains.

First-quarter earnings season is on the final stretch, with 451 of the companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 66.7 per cent have beaten consensus, according to Refinitiv data.

In aggregate, earnings for the first three months of the year are seen falling by 12.1 per cent from the year-ago quarter, a stark reversal from the 6.3 per cent annual growth seen on 1 January.

Cisco Systems closed up 4.5 per cent after its earnings beat estimates, driven by a jump in demand for its work-from-home networking equipment.

is content editor for Morningstar Australia

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