Morning Report – Friday 17th April
The pandemic ravaged China’s economy. First-quarter GDP plunged 6.8% year on year, the first contraction in decades. Consensus was for a 6% decline. The economy showed some strength in March, with factory output falling less than anticipated, though retail sales plunged more than forecast. Beijing said it hasn’t seen massive job losses but will step up policy support. Wuhan, where the virus emerged, revises its death toll up by 1,290 to 3,869 – an increase of 50%.
The bad but not totally unexpected news on China’s economy didn’t derail a rally by Asian stocks and global futures. S&P 500 contracts logged gains of more than 3% amid tentative steps to restart the American economy and progress on the fight against the coronavirus. US Treasuries slumped. Chinese shares underperformed and the yuan was little changed. Oil was mixed, with Brent rising and WTI slipping below $20 a barrel. Base metals rose. Saudi Arabia and Russia signalled they may be open to further output cuts after the latest deal failed to halt crude’s retreat.
Facebook tries again with its Bitcoin rival. Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency could now launch in min-November after a revamp to silence its many critics.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on the British government to make face masks compulsory for people travelling around the capital or shopping. Britain’s lockdown was extended by at least three weeks as the UK risks becoming the worst hit in Europe. The U.K. says it will reject any EU request to extend Brexit transition.
Emmanuel Macron said richer members of the EU need to do more to pay for economic rebuilding if the 27-nation bloc is to survive. More than half a trillion euros of emergency fiscal aid by the European Union apparently isn’t sufficient to shift the burden of fighting the coronavirus crisis from the European Central Bank. Just over a week since governments reached an uneasy agreement on a joint rescue package, strains in markets are reappearing, underscoring lingering worries that the accord isn’t adequate. As result, downside risks still remain in the Euro.
Federal Reserve officials offered a pessimistic view on the outlook for the U.S. economy, cautioning that a recovery will be slow to take hold once social-distancing measures are rolled back.
Main Economic Data/Central Banks/Government (All Times BST)
- 9:00 a.m.: Italy Feb. Trade Balance
- 10:00 a.m.: Euro-Area March CPI
- U.K. sovereign debt rated by Moody’s, France sovereign debt rated by DBRS
Earnings include P&G, Schlumberger.