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Sorry Coronavirus Pandemic, The Economy Has Had It With You – Forbes

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The global economy hasn’t got time for the pain.

Despite second waves in Australia, Japan and Spain — all countries that were deemed success stories and out of the woods — and some U.S. states like Rhode Island rolling back plans to open up, the global recovery narrative is alive and well on Wall Street.

Take that panic sellers!

Before anyone thinks the pandemic is over and the economy is going to return to pre-Covid levels, it bears keeping in mind that the economy is only recovering from being nearly completely shut down. Think of it as a dimmer switch; once turned to off, it’s now at the lowest brightness possible without flickering off. That’s kind of where most of the developed markets sit. Within emerging markets, only China is growing into positive GDP territory.

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Last week’s economics data showed the global economy is on a path to recovery. Although re-accelerating Covid-19 cases are fuelling fears of ‘second waves’ in the epicenter states, their economic consequences would likely be more muted as the appetite for lockdowns again is weak.

Over the weekend we learned that President Trump will not wait for Congress to decide on some aspects of the coronavirus relief packages passed since the spring. He will extend the Federal government’s unemployment insurance, but will cut it from $600 a week to $400. Many companies, from services to assembly lines, have said they cannot get workers to come back to the shop floor because they are making more on unemployment.

Meanwhile, the central banks in advanced economies continue to be supportive of both stocks and bonds. Many people hate this as it distorts price discovery, among other things. But the Fed has seen what happens when retired persons lose 40% of their retirement portfolio due to economic crises. Unless they are buying those same assets back on the lows, which most are not doing because they are not working and likely not investing, then they have to wait years for those prices to recover.

The Fed’s moves in the market may be beneficial to big investment houses, but it is also beneficial to retirees who are “guaranteed” a backstop to major market corrections that destroy their retirement accounts.

Economic data looks okay.

July PMIs continue to suggest a solid take-off point for growth in the third quarter, broadly speaking.

In the euro area, the final July PMIs showed a rebound was in effect and China’s manufacturing numbers and the U.S. ISM surveys both surprised investors.

Combined with solid German factory orders and better-than-expected exports from China and Taiwan, a further recovery in global manufacturing and international trade is expected by market consensus in the third quarter.

This week, new Chinese data on credit, industrial production and investment could further fill in the picture of China’s post-pandemic recovery.

“This week’s retail July sales data for the U.S. and China will be important to watch,” says Christian Keller, economist for Barlcays in London .

Wall Street hopes this week is as good as last week when it comes to recovery news. Last week’s better-than-expected U.S. job claims and nonfarm payroll figures gave everyone a reason to stay bullish. But the risk of new layoffs is plausible, especially in states that have either added restrictions to businesses, like New Jersey and Rhode Island, or finding out that mandatory mask use is a buzz kill keeping people away from traditional activities. The employment outlook in the U.S. will be one of main drivers of consumer confidence not only here, but in the region as the rest of the Americas starts to see light at the end of the tunnel.

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EU looks to fast 5G, supercomputers to boost virus-hit economy – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday urged the 27-country bloc to work together to speed up the rollout of fibre and 5G networks to boost the region’s virus-hit economy and secure its technology autonomy.

EU countries should develop a best practices toolbox by March 30 with the aim of cutting cost and red tape, provide timely access to 5G radio spectrum and allow for more cross-border coordination for radio spectrum for 5G services, the EU executive said.

The coronavirus outbreak showed how important internet services and 5G are, European digital chief Margrethe Vestager said.

“We have seen the current crisis highlight the importance of access to very high-speed internet for businesses, public services and citizens, but also to accelerate the pace towards 5G,” she said in a statement. “We must therefore work together towards fast network rollout without any further delays.”

The Commission also proposed a recommendation to boost research and activities to develop new supercomputing technologies.

“Keeping up in the international technological race is a priority, and Europe has both the know-how and the political will to play a leading role,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement.

The Commission is investing 8 billion euros($9.46 billion)in the next generation of supercomputers.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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Charting the Global Economy: Fed Signals Rates on Hold for Years – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve signaled it will keep its benchmark interest rate near zero through 2023 to help the world’s largest economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheap borrowing costs are fueling demand for U.S. housing and leaving builders brimming with optimism in the process. In China, retail sales and industrial output are on the mend, while in the U.K., the virus-related shutdowns are having a large negative impact on youth employment.

Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week, offering insight into the latest developments in the global economy:

World

The global economic slump won’t be as sharp as previously feared this year, though the recovery is losing pace and will need support from governments and central banks for some time yet, according to the OECD.

U.S.

The Federal Reserve’s so-called dot plot, which the central bank uses to signal its outlook for the path of interest rates, shows that officials expect no change in policy this year and borrowing costs near zero through 2023.

Homebuilder optimism rose to a record in September, with low mortgage rates driving a housing boom that has boosted the pandemic economy, National Association of Home Builders data show.

Europe

The U.K.’s lockdown hit young workers particularly hard, with employment in the 16-24 age category falling by 156,000. That may reflect the share of young workers in hotels, restaurants and bars, a sector devastated by the pandemic.

Asia

China’s economic recovery from Covid-19 accelerated, spurred by a rebound in consumption as virus restrictions eased and larger-than-expected gains in industrial output. Retail sales rose for the first time this year in August, by 0.5% from a year earlier, while industrial production expanded 5.6%, against a forecast of 5.1%.

Emerging Markets

Scoring 75 emerging-market and frontier economies, Bloomberg Economics finds that Asia leads in getting closer to pre-outbreak norms, with some countries in Africa and Eastern Europe also outperforming. Latin America is still struggling to contain the pandemic, with 18 of the bottom 25 in the ranking in Latin America or the Caribbean.

Saudi Arabia’s crude exports dropped to the lowest since at least 2016 in the second quarter as it led a campaign alongside Russia to curb oil production following a coronavirus-induced price crash. While the effort yielded a stark turnaround in prices in May and June, Saudi revenue from oil sales still plunged almost 62% in the three-month period from a year earlier.

South Africa is among the countries with the highest percentage of smokers globally, with almost one in every three adults lighting up. So when the government banned cigarette sales for about five months of the nation’s Covid-19 lockdown, some 90% found a workaround.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Global shares mixed amid worries on coronavirus, economy – CTV News

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NEW YORK —
Stocks are drifting in mixed trading on Wall Street Friday, as another zig-zag week for markets closes out following their abrupt loss of momentum this month.

The S&P 500 was down 0.1% in morning trading after giving up a small gain in the first few minutes of trading. It’s still on pace for a gain of 0.4% this week after a two-day slump followed up on a two-day gain.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was virtually flat at 27,901, as of 10:23 a.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.1%. Both were flitting between small gains and losses. Smaller stocks were stronger, with the Russell 2000 index of small caps up 0.8%.

Analysts warned that the day’s trading could be even bumpier than usual. Futures and options on stocks and indexes are set to expire in an event known as “quadruple witching,” which can drive swings in prices.

Stocks have already swirled this week despite the Federal Reserve’s saying it expects to keep short-term interest rates at record lows through 2023. Low rates typically turbocharge the market by encouraging investors to pay higher prices for stocks, but some investors may have been looking for the Fed to be even more aggressive.

Growth in some areas of the economy has also slowed after unemployment benefits and other aid from the federal government expired, and partisan disagreements in Congress are holding up a possible renewal of support. Investors say it’s essential that such aid arrives.

Rising tensions between the world’s two largest economies are also continuing to keep markets on edge. The United States said on Friday that it will ban the downloads of the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat on Sunday. It cited national security and data privacy concerns.

President Donald Trump’s targeting of the Chinese tech industry has caused intermittent worries in the market about a possible retaliation against the U.S. industry.

Big Tech stocks already stumbled sharply this month on worries that their prices have grown too expensive following their virtuosic performance through the pandemic. Surging shares of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others helped carry Wall Street back to record heights, even as the pandemic walloped much of the economy, as the coronavirus accelerated work-from-home and other trends that benefit them.

But they suddenly lost momentum two weeks ago, causing the market to swing with them. Because these companies have grown so massive, their stock movements have huge sway over broad market indexes, such as the S&P 500.

On Friday, several Big Tech stocks were swinging from gains to losses. Apple was down 0.9%, and Microsoft was down 0.5%, but Facebook was up 0.4%.

Also on the long list of concerns for markets is how the pandemic progresses, whether a vaccine for COVID-19 could indeed be available in early 2021 as many investors expect and what November’s U.S. presidential election will do to the economy.

Treasury yields remain very low, showing the powerful strength of the Federal Reserve and continued expectations by bond investors for only modest economic growth and inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dipped to 0.68% from 0.69% late Thursday.

A preliminary report on Friday said that consumer sentiment is improving at a faster pace than economists expected, which is key for an economy where spending by consumers is the main driver. But it follows other reports this week that showed growth in retail sales slowed last month and the number of layoffs across the country remains stubbornly high.

Other stock markets around the world made mostly modest moves.

In Europe, the German DAX lost 0.1%, and the French CAC 40 sank 0.8%. The FTSE 100 in London fell 0.4%.

Asian markets rose. Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.2%, South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.5%. Stocks in Shanghai rose 2.1%.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 0.7% to $41.26 to per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 0.3% to $43.41 per barrel.

——

AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed

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