Market Overview

6 October 2020

Stocks Successfully Passed Third Stress Test in Six Weeks

Some questions remain but not many about the true state of Mr Trump's health, as he was discharged from the hospital last evening. The U.S. President descended from the huge Marine One helicopter wearing a white protective face mask as he walked towards the White House, only to remove the mask immediately when he started to pose and wave on the mansion's South Portico. 

Naturally, he received a new portion of criticism from his Democratic opponents, not only for removing the mask again and so soon, but also for calling on the American people to not be afraid of the virus, as @realDonaldTrump tweeted just before leaving the Walter Reed Medical Center: "Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!" 

There were those who even wanted to argue with this simple thought, which is more about the proper mental approach than medical precautions. "I was aghast when he said COVID should not be feared... this is a disease that is killing around a thousand people a day, has torpedoed the economy, put people out of work... this is a virus that should be both respected and feared," said William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in Nashville. His pure professional views were quickly cited by the Democratic media to use them as one more piece of armour against Trump. 

Of course, he would not be Donald Trump if he would not transform his recovery process into the integral part of the election show, glorifying the experimental treatments that he just went through on his own and emphasising methods that were created by doctors and scientists during his presidency. Nevertheless, whether it is liked or not, Trump may be seen to be right in the claims he made in his next Tweet that: "If the President bounces back onto the campaign trail, he will be an invincible hero, who not only survived every dirty trick the Democrats threw at him, but the Chinese virus as well. He will show America we no longer have to be afraid.” His main antagonist and challenger, Joe Biden, quickly reacted with side-by-side images of himself donning a mask and Trump removing his mask, and with a caption saying, "Masks Matter. They save lives." 

But all this story may really rather help a sitting President to acquire additional votes in swing states such as Florida, and for now this fact was positively received by the stock markets too, as the markets were presumably used to rallying during the first three years of Mr Trump's presidency. The U.S. major S&P500 broad market index reacted painfully to the peak of pre-election uncertainty due to the initial news of Trump's illness , by dropping close to the 3300 area on Friday. Then it partially bounced back before the end of the same day, and climbed above 3400 today in early Asian hours. Aiding the rather positive mood, Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, said on Monday there was still "potential to reach agreement" with Congress lawmakers on more coronavirus relief and that Trump "was committed" to getting the deal done this month. "The market has really traded on stimulus news, both to the high side and to the low side over the past few months," said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird. 

Moving on, Donald Trump's coronavirus case was already the third serious stress test for the set of global assets since the beginning of September. In the first round, global indexes were tested for endurance by the Big Tech sell-off from their exorbitant prices. In the second round, the European banks were at a gunpoint after some media reports on moving large sums of allegedly illicit funds over nearly two decades, with accusations being investigated by U.S. financial authorities. Now the third portion of a potential damage for asset prices has surfaced, but still stocks kept most of the summer gains under these pressures. 

The following few weeks before the November 3 election in the United States and up to the full and final clarity with their winner will continue the "blasting work", probably making more trouble for the further market growth. However, if the previous three bearish "attacks" were not convincing enough, this may mean that markets look quite stable at least in the mid-term horizon, and it would be not a simple task for any news to cast a long shadow on a general rally of American stocks. The same conclusion could be made when viewing the rise in oil prices from Friday's instant bottom near $38.3 per barrel of Brent benchmark to almost $41.5 per barrel today, and that is a clear comeback at least to the middle of the normal range for the previous months. 

As for European indexes, they made a positive day-close on Friday, then continued to gain since the beginning of the week. This happened despite the Eurozone services purchasing managers index (PMI) dropping to 48.0 points, and so readings became formally negative for the first time since July. A level of 50.0 signals has not changed since the previous period, above 50.0 signals is seen as an improvement, while any level below 50.0 means a contraction of economic activity. Markit investigators mentioned the same picture in the service sector for most of the major Europeans economics, excluding Germany with its national service PMI at 50.6 points. On the other hand, the manufacturing sector is still growing, and therefore the composite PMI index was released at 50.4 points for the whole Eurozone, at a very good level of 54.7 points in Germany but at 48.5 only in France. The similar U.S. data on ISM non-manufacturing PMI came very strong at 57.8 points, which also supported the market mood. 

All these statistics did not prevent the European indexes from recovering and  following the American S&P500 yesterday. Today European assets are averagely in a flat mood, and most of the European instruments are probably going to wait for the next move while gazing at the performance of U.S. indexes as they are the trendsetters, at least for some time. The monetary policy statement of the European Central Bank (ECB) will be released on Thursday, but it is probably going to become just a shadow of the September 10 meeting that was already digested by the market.

 

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