Daily market review

United States

Better sentiment spurred by government stimulus and oversold conditions continued to lift battered equities Thursday. The Dow industrials rose 6.4 percent, the S&P 500 gained 6.2 percent, and the NASDAQ was up 5.6 percent.

Gains were across the board, with leaders including aerospace and defense, credit cards, refiners, utilities, asset managers, banks, chipmakers, and managed care. Internets, media, retail, and autos were up less. Oil prices fell despite the gains for equities, but energy stocks managed to rise in the updraft.

In economic data, weekly jobless claims soared to 3.3 million in the latest week, but the market popped up after the report, suggesting many traders expected an even higher number. Markets appear to have taken on board the notion that the downturn will be steep but short-lived.

Fed Chair Jay Powell, in an unusual television interview before the US cash market open, sought to reassure everyone that the Fed has plenty of tools left to assure a decent recovery, and is prepared to use them, in tandem with the US Treasury.

Among companies in focus, Micron Technology rose 5.4 percent after an earnings beat and better guidance despite a warning on the virus impact. Ford Motor fell 2.6 percent after an S&P ratings downgrade and warning on the virus's shock to its business.

These data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil fell US$1.03 to US$26.66, while gold rose US$7.10 to US$1,649.30. The US dollar fell very sharply against major currencies. The US Treasury 30-year bond yield fell 3 basis points to 1.41 percent while the 10-year note yield was down 3 basis points to 0.83 percent.


Reports of more stimulus coming from European governments plus news the European Central Bank would step up bond purchases lifted equities again Thursday, with virus-hit sectors like travel leading the recovery. Morning gains on Wall Street helped European indexes bounce back from early weakness. The Europe-wide STOXX 600 rose 2.6 percent, the German DAX gained 1.3 percent, the French CAC rose 2.5 percent, and the UK FTSE-100 was up 2.2 percent.

Sentiment improved on expectations EU lawmakers would approve emergency spending to bolster the regional economy, and on word the ECB had lifted its restrictions on bond purchases from specific countries. On the downside, infections and deaths continued to accelerate across Europe.

Outperformers included travel & leisure, industrials, construction & materials, financial services, media, food & beverage, and retail, while laggards included autos, basic resources, oil & gas, telecom, chemicals, and real estate.

Notable winners included PCI Biotech, the Norwegian biotech, up 26 percent on news of a patent effective in April. UK online commerce company Boku rose 20 percent on upbeat earnings. Topps Tiles, the UK tile maker, rose 20 percent on upbeat results despite warning on the virus impact.

Asia Pacific

Most major Asian markets closed lower Wednesday after strong gains earlier in the week, with Singapore data providing an early indication of the extent to which the global coronavirus pandemic is likely to have impacted economic activity across the region. Supply chain disruptions, travel restrictions, and strict curbs on social and business activity by authorities clearly weighed on Singapore's economy over the quarter, with this pattern likely to be repeated as other Asian economies report GDP growth estimates in coming weeks.

Japan's Nikkei and Topix indices were among the weaker performers, down 4.5 percent and 1.8 percent respectively, with local investor sentiment also hit by warnings from Tokyo authorities that coronavirus cases in the city may spike higher in coming days. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed down 0.7 percent, while the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.6 percent. Australia's All Ordinaries index was the main exception to the regional trend, continuing to recover from very sharp losses last week with a gain of 2.6 percent.

Singapore GDP published Thursday confirmed the initial large negative impact of the pandemic on domestic activity. Singapore's GDP is estimated to have fallen 10.6 percent on the quarter in the three months to March, down sharply from growth of 0.6 percent in the three months to December, and the biggest quarter-on-quarter decline since mid-2010. Weaker headline growth was driven by the services and construction sectors.

Hong Kong trade data published after the close of trading in the region did show stronger growth in both imports and exports in February after sharp declines in January, but the rebounds mainly reflected the timing of lunar new year holidays. Looking at combined data for January and February provides a more accurate indication, and on this basis exports were down 12.0 percent on the year with imports down 9.3 percent.

Looking ahead*

On Friday in Europe, Italian business and consumer confidence figures are scheduled. In North America, US personal income and outlays, and consumer sentiment reports are on tap.

Global Stock Market Recap

Global Bond Market Recap

Global Currency Recap

Commodities and currencies