US stocks rebound, oil drifts below $30

By AFP,

US stocks rebounded Tuesday following Wall Street’s sharpest daily drop in more than three decades, while equities elsewhere wobbled as governments and central banks scramble to try and calm the coronavirus panic.

Meanwhile oil prices drifted below $30 per barrel, and the dollar bounced back from heavy losses against the euro on Monday.

Wall Street stock indices pushed higher at the opening bell, with the Dow adding 1.7 percent, after having collapsed Monday in their worst day since 1987.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq dropped about 12 percent and the Dow nearly 13 percent, as measures taken by central banks and governments to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus were taken to highlight the depth of the crisis.

Sentiment was helped Tuesday by reports that US President Donald Trump will ask Congress to approve a massive $850 billion emergency spending package to contain the growing economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic that will include a payroll tax cut and a bailout for airlines.

European stock markets surged around five percent in early deals Tuesday before erasing their gains.

“As has been the case every time the European markets have tried to rebound, it is not going to be smooth sailing,” noted Connor Campbell, analyst at Spreadex trading group.

In a move meant to help tame the massive volatility in the markets caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the French bourse regulator on Tuesday banned short-selling in 92 top stocks for the day.

“Taking into account the significant losses in recent days on the financial markets, the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) has decided to take an urgent step,” it said in a statement.

Investors use short-selling to bet the market will fall, putting tremendous downward pressure on prices at a time when buying interest is virtually non-existent.

While governments and central banks attempt to soothe markets with massive stimulus pledges and interest rate cuts, more countries are going into lockdown to prevent the outbreak’s spread — bringing the world economy juddering to a halt.

There is a broad consensus that the disease, which has wiped trillions off market valuations, will cause a global recession, with the airline industry among the first in the firing line, leading company heads to plead for billions in state help to prevent them going under.

The Italian government Tuesday said it intends to re-nationalise the bankrupt former national carrier Alitalia under an emergency economic rescue package.

“Drastic measures by the Federal Reserve and other central banks have failed to appease markets, with investors still running towards the exit door of risk assets as governments step up their radical measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak,” said National Australia Bank’s Rodrigo Catril.

The Philippines became the first country to shut down its stock market as the country goes into lockdown, and the bourse will be closed until further notice.

Sydney’s stock market closed up 5.8 percent Tuesday, a day after crashing 9.7 percent in its worst day on record.

But after an early advance, the rest of Asia swung in and out of positive territory through the day.

Tokyo ended up 0.1 percent after a roller-coaster session, Hong Kong added 0.9 percent and Mumbai rose 0.7 percent, while Bangkok was slightly higher.

But Shanghai slipped 0.3 percent, while Jakarta sank more than four percent. Seoul, Taipei and Singapore were all down.

‘Crying out’ for help –

“The message from markets is that as much as monetary stimulus is a welcome move, lowering the price of borrowing and increasing liquidity are not enough,” added analyst Catril.

“The required COVID-19 measures are hampering the global economy and with activity grinding to a halt, governments need to step in and provide support. Markets are crying out for more fiscal backing.”

Heads of the Group of Seven leading economies pledged on Monday to “do whatever it takes” to protect the economy, while US President Donald Trump acknowledged the world’s largest economy “may be” headed into recession.

Oil prices resumed their fall after Monday’s collapse that saw Brent plunging more than 12 percent to a four-year low. Both Brent and WTI have now slid below $30 per barrel.

Adding to the weakness in crude markets is the price war between major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia.

  • Key figures around 1330 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 1.7 percent at 20,527.63 points

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.2 percent at 5,091.42

Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.6 percent at 8,694.43

Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.3 percent at 3,870.33

Milan – FTSE MIB: UP less than 0.1 percent at 14,990.83

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,445.51

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 17,011.53 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.9 percent at 23,263.73 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,779.64 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.99 yen from 105.92 yen at 2130 GMT

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0980 from $1.1117

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2094 from $1.2240

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.83 pence from 91.10 pence

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.8 percent at $29.82 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.3 percent at $28.78 per barrel

Image credit: AFP / Nelson ALMEIDA