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Global Market Report - 5 March

Lex Hall  |  05 Mar 2020Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Australia

Australian stocks look set to jump more than 1.5 per cent when trading opens after a big rally in US markets.

The SPI200 futures contract was up 112 points, or 1.77 per cent, at 6,435 at 8am Sydney time on Thursday, suggesting they could bolt out of the blocks at the start of trade.

NAB senior economist David de Garis suggests the markets are being driven by hope that governments will follow the lead of central banks and respond to the coronavirus emergency with stimulus packages to protect their economies.

"Australia and the UK have both said details will be available soon - two currencies showing gains today - whereas Europe is a little more cagey, with the Euro losing ground," he said.

In the US, Wall Street surged on news of Joe Biden’s strong showing in the Super Tuesday Democratic primary contests. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,173.45 points, or 4.53 per cent, to 27,090.86; the S&P 500 gained 4.22 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 3.85 per cent.

Investors will be watching to see international trade in goods and services data for January on Thursday, and Myer's results.

The Australian dollar was buying 66.23 US cents at 8am, up from 65.97 US cents as the market closed on Wednesday.

Asia

China stocks settled higher on Wednesday as investors hoped for more domestic policy stimulus after the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates to tackle the economic fallout from the coronavirus.

Additionally, economists urged for swift support to avoid mass bankruptcies after China's services sector had its worst month on record in February, a business survey showed.

The blue-chip CSI300 index rose 0.6 per cent to 4,115.05, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.6 per cent to 3,011.67 points.

Hong Kong stocks slipped on Wednesday, as an emergency rate cut from the US Federal Reserve seemed to spook rather than soothe global markets. However, losses were contained as bleak data further raised hopes for even more further policy support.

At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 62.75 points or 0.2 per cent at 26,222.07. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose 0.4 per cent to 10,521.78.

Around the region, MSCI's Asia ex-Japan stock index was firmer by 0.37 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei index closed up 0.08 per cent.

Europe

European shares rose on Wednesday, with defensive sectors gaining the most as investors grappled with the efficacy of monetary stimulus in offsetting the economic impact of the coronavirus.

While the Fed’s 50 basis points cut on Tuesday did see markets increasing bets on similar moves from other central banks, the fact that it was the Fed’s first rate cut outside of a regularly scheduled policymaker meeting since the 2008 crisis led to heightened concerns over the outbreak.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 1.4 per cent, with the utilities and telecom sectors leading gains.

Danish wind farm developer Orsted surged more than 5 per cent, leading utilities higher after it upped its annual core earnings forecast.

Money markets in the euro zone are pricing a 90 per cent chance that the ECB will cut its deposit rate, now minus 0.50 per cent, by 10 basis points next week.

However, sources told Reuters that policy action was not on the agenda of an unscheduled telephone conference call held by ECB policymakers late on Tuesday to discuss their emergency response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Adding to concerns over the virus outbreak, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva said on Wednesday that the faster spread of the coronavirus will wipe out any hope of stronger global growth in 2020.

Healthcare stocks jumped, with Roche Holding gaining more than 3 per cent after Chinese health authorities said it would use the Swiss pharma giant’s arthritis drug to treat some coronavirus patients in severe conditions.

Italian stocks closed 0.9 per cent higher as the country prepared drastic new emergency measures to try and slow the spread of coronavirus in Europe's worst hit country.

German online food delivery company Hellofresh jumped 10.7 per cent, topping the STOXX 600 as it extended gains following strong annual results.

The travel and leisure index ended 1.6 per cent lower as major hotel and airline stocks continued to be battered by virus-related disruptions hurting demand.

Aviation support services provider Signature Aviation sank 6.1 per cent to the bottom of the STOXX 600 after Barclays and JP Morgan cut the stock’s target price.

North America

Wall Street roared back to life on Wednesday, with both the Dow and the S&P 500 surging more than 4 per cent, after former Vice President Joe Biden’s strong showing in the Super Tuesday Democratic primary contests injected a dose of confidence.

Biden’s pack-leading results - on course to win in 10 of the 14 states that held primaries on Tuesday - powered a jump in healthcare stocks, and upbeat economic data soothed worries about the impact of the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

After the S&P 500 reached an all-time high on 19 February, the stock market slid into a correction as the rapidly spreading COVID-19 sparked recession fears.

The S&P 500 has recovered nearly 6 per cent from Friday’s closing trough, but remains about 7.6 per cent below the all-time high reached on 19 February.

The S&P 500 healthcare index had its best day since November 2008, advancing 5.8 per cent. Health insurers, in particular, gained ground, with the S&P 500 Managed Care index jumping 12.4 per cent.

Biden emerged as the front-runner in a narrowing race for the Democratic presidential nomination following a string of primary victories, providing relief to market participants who are wary of the more progressive policy positions of rival Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. Sanders’ embrace of a Medicare for All healthcare policy that would essentially abolish private insurance had cast a shadow on healthcare stocks.

Biden’s showing acted as a balm to investors a day after the market slumped following the US Federal Reserve’s emergency 50-basis-point interest rate cut to head off potential economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak. There are now 93,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide.

Indeed, separate data released on Wednesday showed stronger-than-expected private sector hiring, while the services sector expanded at its fastest pace in a year.

Additionally, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the average 30-year fixed contract mortgage rate fell last week to a seven-year low.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1173.45 points, or 4.53 per cent, to 27,090.86, the S&P 500 gained 126.75 points, or 4.22 per cent, to 3,130.12 and the Nasdaq Composite added 334.00 points, or 3.85 per cent, to 9018.09.

All of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 posted solid advances, led by healthcare and utilities.

Dollar Tree Inc forecast underwhelming first-quarter sales and profit, sending the discount retailer’s shares down 3.6 per cent.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co jumped 9.0 per cent after beating quarterly sales and profit estimates.

Campbell Soup Co’s beat-and-raise earnings report gave a 10.1 per cent boost to its shares.

is content editor for Morningstar Australia

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