LONDON (Reuters) – World shares hit two-week lows and oil fell nearly 2% on Monday as the relentless spread of the coronavirus curbed optimism on the global economy, prompting investors to take shelter in safe-haven bonds and gold.
FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective face mask, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, walks in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
European stocks opened slightly lower, after Asian shares ended deep in the red playing catch up with Wall Street’s ugly close on Friday as some U.S. states reconsidered their reopening plans.
The global death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on Sunday, with one quarter of those in the United States, where cases have surged in a handful of southern and western states.
MSCI’s world shares index was off 0.2%, hitting its lowest level since June 15 dragged down by Japan’s Nikkei shedding 2.2% and Chinese blue chips off 0.9%. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.1%.
“The market is caught in a real battle between recovery optimism and news of increasing cases in certain geographical areas such as the U.S,” said John Woolfitt, director of trading at Atlantic Capital Markets.
“I think this battle will remain until the U.S. get a handle on it.”
Sovereign bonds benefited from the shift to safety with yields on U.S. 10-year notes near 0.64%, having briefly been as high as 0.96% early in June. German government bond yields clung to one-month lows on Monday.
The U.S. dollar has generally gone in the opposite direction, rising to 97.334 against a basket of currencies from a trough of 95.714 earlier in the month.
It had less luck on Monday, easing back to 107.18 yen, though it remained well within the recent range of 106.06 to 107.63. The euro stood at $1.1245 having found solid support around $1.1167.
“Financial markets remain extremely fragile, having to weigh worsening virus news against improving economic data,” said Marija Veitmane, senior strategist at State Street Global Markets.
It is an important week for U.S. data with the ISM manufacturing index on Wednesday and payrolls on Thursday, ahead of the Independence Day holiday. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is also testifying on Tuesday.
“U.S. economic data will reinforce that the economy is through the worst of the recession in our view,” said CBA currency analyst Joseph Capurso.
“But a double‑dip recession is possible if widespread restrictions are reimposed, leading to a surge in the dollar.”
In commodity markets, gold held near its highest since early 2012 at $1,773 an ounce.
Oil prices slipped amid concerns the pandemic would slow the reopening of some economies and thus hurt demand for fuel.
Brent crude futures fell 69 cents to $40.33 a barrel, while U.S. crude lost 62 cents to $37.87.
Graphic: Asia stock markets here
Graphic: Asia-Pacific valuations here
Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan in London, additional reporting by Wayne Cole in Sydney
Oil pares weekly gain amid virus fears, signs of tighter supply – BNNBloomberg.ca
Oil slipped on Friday, paring a weekly gain, as concern of demand erosion from a coronavirus resurgence countered strong U.S. economic data.
Futures fell to about US$40 a barrel in New York as the virus continues to spread unabated across large parts of the U.S., clouding the outlook for energy demand. Crude prices gained 4.2 per cent for the week as data showed a rebound in the U.S. jobs market accelerated in early June and American crude stockpiles shrank by the most this year. A survey showed OPEC oil production dropped last month to the lowest since 1991.
The worsening pandemic may not have been fully captured in the jobs data, which provided a snapshot of hiring in the middle of the month before many states reversed course on their re-openings.
“We have had a sharp recovery in demand for energy products that has occurred from March to end of May,” Daniel Ghali, a TD Securities commodity strategist, said by phone. “Since then the pace of recovery has slowed. There is concern that this stall may be a signal of weakness in demand that’s tied to the rise in coronavirus cases in the U.S.”
Adding to the murky demand outlook, Chinese oil inventories swelled to a record this week, satellite data show, after the world’s biggest oil importer went on a buying spree last quarter as the economy rebounded. The stockpiles may indicate a slowdown in buying by the East Asian country.
That outlook was balanced by the OPEC+ alliance’s commitment to reducing output, with Russia showing near total compliance with its targets. The group hasn’t made any decision yet on whether to extend its full cutback — which stands at 9.6 million barrels a day — into August, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said. Ministers from the coalition next meet on July 15.
West Texas Intermediate for August delivery fell 51 cents US to US$40.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 11:18 a.m. local time, after closing up 2.1 per cent on Thursday. Brent for September settlement declined 49 cents US to US$42.65 on the ICE Futures Europe exchange, paring its weekly gain to four per cent. Trading volumes were low as the U.S. took a day off ahead of the July 4 holiday.
The global benchmark crude’s three-month timespread remained in contango — where prompt contracts are cheaper than later-dated ones — but the spread has narrowed in recent days, indicating that concerns about oversupply have eased slightly.
The decline in U.S. oil production continued as working rigs fell for a 16th week to the least since 2009, according to Baker Hughes data released Thursday. Exxon Mobil Corp., meanwhile, reported an unprecedented second straight quarterly loss as almost every facet of the energy giant’s business slumped.
Other oil-market news
-India’s oil market is showing an uneven recovery two months after easing virus-control measures. Provisional fuel sales from the three biggest retailers were at 88 per cent of 2019 levels in June.
-The oil market is “currently perhaps too optimistic” as COVID-19 cases haven’t peaked yet and there’s still a large inventory overhang, FGE said in a note. Prices could fall to US$35 a barrel in the near-term before recovering in the fourth quarter.
-Angola is under intense pressure from other OPEC+ members to speed up its oil output cuts, and the response from the African nation has so far failed to appease the group.
-Several crude cargoes floating near China have been re-offered or sold to other buyers in Asia as long lines of oil-laden tankers continue to wait for their turn to discharge in Asia’s top importing nation, said traders who asked not to be identified.
–With assistance from James Thornhill.
The Great Facebook Boycott: Will it make any difference? – Aljazeera.com
On The Listening Post this week: Big brands are part of an advertising boycott against Facebook over racist content and hate speech. Plus, lockdown TV puts bookshelves in the spotlight.
The Great Facebook Boycott: Will it make any difference?
The two biggest news stories of 2020 – the coronavirus pandemic and the racial inequality protests – have triggered what the United Nations calls a “tsunami” of hate speech – a surge in xenophobia online. The social media platforms involved now find themselves the focus of an advertising boycott – a campaign called “Stop Hate for Profit” – that is designed to get them to clean up their act, by hitting them where it hurts. The primary target has been Facebook. For years, Mark Zuckerberg and company have resisted demands to take a more active approach – a harder line – to moderating hateful content. Ninety-nine percent of Facebook’s revenue – $70bn last year – reportedly comes from advertising. However, given Facebook’s size, the boycott is unlikely to seriously damage its bottom line, at least in the short term.
Shoshana Wodinsky – enterprise reporter, Gizmodo
Nadine Strossen – professor, New York Law School and former president, ACLU
Jessica Gonzalez – Stop Hate for Profit campaign and co-CEO, Free Press
Sarah Roberts – Center for Critical Inquiry, UCLA and author, Behind the Screen
On our radar
Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Johanna Hoes about China’s new national security law for Hong Kong and its implications for the media; plus, the Iranian journalist sentenced to death simply for doing his job.
Framing the self: The rise of the bookshelf aesthetic
With the pandemic forcing so many of us to work from home, all kinds of talking heads – news anchors, interviewees, pundits and politicians – have had to redefine their “natural environments”. So you have been seeing a lot of bookshelves. They are the perfect solution. They provide a little visual texture – they do not distract – and they create the impression, true or not, that the talking head has actually read the books, maybe even written some of them. Creating a backdrop is an exercise in self-branding – it sends a message and speaks to your alleged credibility before you say a word. And this book-flaunting has led to a new genre of media critique: bookshelf analysis. The Listening Post‘s Flo Phillips reports on judging a person by their bookish backdrop.
Tamar Garb – professor of art history, UCL
Bernie Hogan – senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute
Hussein Kesvani – culture and technology journalist
Alex Christofi – editorial director, Transworld Books
Source: Al Jazeera
TSX Composite ends solid week directionless with US markets closed
TORONTO — Canada’s main stock index wrapped up a solid week on a down note while U.S. markets were closed for the Independence Day holiday.
Crude oil and gold prices were down a little bit but not enough to “really spook” the market so the Toronto Stock Exchange followed the path set in Europe where investors took some profits after recent gains, said Philip Petursson, chief investment strategist at Manulife Investment Management.
“It’s kind of one of those wishy-washy days where when you don’t have the leader, which is the U.S. equity markets, 1/8so 3/8 the market is searching for direction,” he said in an interview.
Petursson said the market is hitting that third phase of exhaustion after the prior two of a bear market and a sharp rebound.
“In this phase what we’re doing is we’re waiting for the results and it’s not necessarily just the economic results, more importantly its the earnings results or anything that leads to a positive earnings outlook in Q4 or into 2021 to really drive the market to that next leg higher.”
Second-quarter earnings, which start mid-month are expected to be very bad, said Petursson.
“No matter what the earnings look like the market is just going to shrug it off,” he said.
Rather than recent performance, investors are going to be looking for signs in company guidance that “baby steps” are being taken back to normal despite the increase in COVID-19 infections in the United States.
The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 25.65 points at 15,596.75. It ended the week up 2.7 per cent on a rise in oil and gold prices.
The Canadian dollar also appreciated with oil surpassing US$40 a barrel. It traded for 73.72 cents US compared with 73.61 cents US on Thursday.
Petursson expects the loonie will reach 75 to 77 cents as crude rises to US$45 per barrel, gaining to hit about US$60 over some 18 months.
On Friday, the August crude contract was down 33 cents at US$40.32 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up 1.6 cents at US$1.75 per mmBTU.
Husky Energy Inc. was the weakest performer as its shares dropped 2.6 per cent, followed by Vermilion Energy Inc. at 2.1 per cent and Cenovus Energy Inc. off two per cent.
Nine of the 11 major sectors on the TSX were lower amid low trading because of the U.S. holiday.
Health care, real estate and materials decreased.
The August gold contract was down US$2.70 at US$1,787.30 an ounce and the September copper contract was down 2.75 cents at US$2.72 a pound.
Consumer staples and telecommunications were slightly higher.
The market choppiness should continue, rising one day and then dipping as investors take some profits, Petursson said.
“This is what I expect to happen until the fall where I think we will have a better picture on what the start of 2021 is going to look like, not only with respect to COVID, more importantly to earnings.
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