Global stocks down on economic toll from coronavirus; oil gains - GulfToday

Global stocks down on economic toll from coronavirus; oil gains


A framing art gallery is closed in Venice Beach, California. Another 6.65 million US workers filed for unemployment benefits last week as the coronavirus forced businesses to shut down nationwide. Agence France-Presse

Global stock markets sank on Friday following more signs that the COVID-19 pandemic would take a massive toll on economic growth, while oil prices continued to rally on hopes of a cut to global supply.

Investors sought out safe havens in the US dollar and government bonds, pushing US Treasury yields near their lowest in three weeks.

US payrolls fell by the largest amount since March 2009, ending a record 113 straight months of job growth. Morgan Stanley said the US economy will shrink 5.5% in 2020, the steepest drop since 1946, with a huge 38% contraction predicted for the second quarter.

In Europe, a number of firms flagged a hit to business from the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, foreshadowing a deeper earnings recession ahead of the reporting season.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.41% following broad declines in Europe and Asia.

In midday trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 331.5 points, or 1.55%, to 21,081.94, the S&P 500 lost 37.51 points, or 1.48%, to 2,489.39 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 104.43 points, or 1.39%, to 7,382.89.

“Global recession fears are now being confirmed by the incoming economic prints,” said Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM. “Until the virus case count peaks and the business earnings outlook improves, risk sentiment may only experience fleeting bouts of positivity.”

The pandemic has claimed more than 52,000 deaths as it further exploded in the United States and the death toll climbed in Spain and Italy, according to a Reuters tally.

Concerns about the extent of the damage to the global economy pushed investors into the perceived safety of government bonds. Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 16/32 in price to yield 0.5776%, from 0.627% late on Thursday.

“You have to take into consideration this isn’t the full impact just yet,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York, adding that he expects “further erosion in the job market in the months ahead.”

Brent crude futures gained 9.29% to $32.72, extending Thursday’s record 24.7% surge, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 4.98% to $26.58.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had brokered a deal that could result in Russia and Saudi Arabia cutting oil output by an unprecedented 10 million to 15 million barrels per day (bpd), representing 10-15% of global supply. Trump said he had not offered to cut US output.

Saudi Arabia said it would call an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), state media reported.

The price of crude oil surged again on Friday after Opec said it would talk to non-members, notably Russia, giving investors hope that they will stop a price war which has created market chaos along with crushed demand because of the coronavirus.

The Saudi-led Opec group of oil producers and their allies will meet Monday via video conference, a source close to the group said.

Opec’s move meanwhile sparked fresh speculation of an oil production cut, one day after US President Donald Trump sparked a record crude price rally by hinting that Russia and Saudi Arabia planned to end their price war with a sharp reduction in output.

According to a Russian source cited by the TASS agency, US officials have also been invited to take part in the meeting.

“It is in all parties’ interests to agree to a significant cut,” said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.

Friday’s oil price surge extended a dizzying recovery seen Thursday.

Meanwhile, Gold prices inched up on Friday, after gloomy US nonfarm payrolls data magnified the economic toll from the coronavirus, although a stronger dollar capped bullion’s advance.

Spot gold rose 0.2% to $1,615.62 per ounce by 11:03am. The metal has declined nearly 0.2% so far this week. US gold futures edged 0.4% higher to $1,644.10 per ounce.

“Gold continues to be in wait-and-see mode on how bad the global economy will get and how long will the depression-like conditions last,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at broker OANDA.

The US economy shed 701,000 jobs in March, ending a historic 113 straight months of employment growth as stringent measures to control the novel coronavirus hurt businesses and factories, confirming a recession is underway. The dollar firmed against rivals, edging towards a more than 2% weekly rise as global recession fears intensify.

Swiss precious metals refinery PAMP has been given permission by local authorities to restart operations and will begin processing at less than 50% capacity, it said on Friday. On Thursday, gold gained more than 1% after the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits last week shot to a record high as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the pandemic.


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