Financial Markets – Investors Jittery About Potential Actions From The U.S. Or China

International stocks wavered, as investors braced for President Trump’s response to China’s push for tighter security controls on Hong Kong.


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By early Friday afternoon in Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index had declined 0.6%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.2% lower, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.8%.

Indexes in South Korea and Shanghai recouped earlier losses to turn slightly positive, rising 0.3% or less. S&P 500 futures were down 0.2%.

Colin Low, senior macro analyst at FSMOne.com in Singapore, said optimism over the reopening of economies could be overriding concerns over heightened U.S.-China tensions, helping markets pare earlier losses.

“Markets will be watching what Trump will do or say in his press conference later today,” he said, as investors are concerned about potential concrete actions by either the U.S. or China.



Any U.S. measures on trade or against Chinese companies, and any Chinese retaliation, could have a greater impact than previous actions taken before the new coronavirus battered both economies, he added.

U.S. stock indexes closed lower Thursday after President Trump said he would hold a press conference about China on Friday. The three major gauges fell between 0.2% and 0.6%.

On Thursday, China’s legislature approved a resolution to impose national-security laws on Hong Kong. That sets the country on a collision course with the U.S., which has accused Beijing of reneging on its pledge to respect the city’s self-governance.

Weakness in the Chinese yuan has reflected heightened tensions between the world’s two largest economies. A weaker yuan could help China’s economy by making its exports more competitive, but risks provoking U.S. criticism that Beijing is manipulating its currency.

The People’s Bank of China set a daily midpoint for trading of the onshore yuan at 7.1316 to the dollar, fixing this level at a fresh 12-year low for the third time this week.


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By early afternoon in Hong Kong, the less tightly controlled offshore yuan strengthened slightly to 7.1659 to the dollar, while the onshore yuan stood at 7.1478. Earlier this week, the offshore yuan, which started trading in 2010, came close to the all-time weak levels that it hit in September.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 0.664%, from 0.703%. Bond yields fall as prices rise.

Brent crude, the global gauge of crude-oil prices, fell 0.8% to $35.73 a barrel.



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Stock Market: U.S. Futures And Global Stocks Fall, Investors Rush To Safe-Haven Assets

“In the U.S., we’re at the beginning of a downturn,” said Steven Englander



U.S. stock futures declined Wednesday, after leading benchmarks closed out their worst quarter since the global financial crisis.

Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 ticked down 2.6% early Wednesday.

European stocks also declined. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index dropped 2.9% with Germany’s DAX benchmark down 3.2% and the FTSE 100 down 3.5%.

As investors rushed to safe-haven assets, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell about 0.02 percentage point to 0.661%. Bond yields fall as prices rise. The ICE Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of currencies, rose 0.4%.

“In the U.S., we’re at the beginning of a downturn,” said Steven Englander, global head of G-10 foreign-exchange research and North America macro strategy at Standard Chartered Bank. “We’re likely to see more unemployment, and the early bottom could come in May, but that is very speculative. For that to happen, we need a lot of good luck and serious implementation of economic and health-care policy.”

Mr. Englander said stimulus packages were positive for the economy, and would help American employees get through the next two months but that there might be a need for “trillions more.” On Tuesday, President Trump called for a new infrastructure-focused spending bill worth $2 trillion.

The Federal Reserve said Tuesday that it would launch a temporary lending facility that for the first time would allow foreign central banks to convert their holdings of Treasury securities into dollars, its new bid to alleviate strains in global markets.

Mr. Englander said the program would improve international access to dollar-based funding.

“Investors will take it seriously,” he said.

The S&P 500 dropped 1.6% Tuesday, taking its year-to-date losses to 20%, the biggest quarterly decline since 2008. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.8%. It slid 23% over the quarter, its worst showing since 1987.


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In Asia, markets were mixed Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 4.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 2.2% lower. Meanwhile, Australia’s ASX 200 gained 3.6%.

In Hong Kong, shares in HSBC Holdings PLC tumbled more than 9% to their lowest since 2009, while stock in rival Standard Chartered PLC also fell. The two lenders, which also have U.K. listings, were among four banks that said Tuesday they would cancel unpaid 2019 dividends at the Bank of England’s request.






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Global Stock Markets Mixed After Lawmakers Agree On Coronavirus Rescue Deal

Stocks turned mixed Wednesday after building on a rally from the previous session in anticipation of a coronavirus rescue deal by Congress. The White House and Senate reached an agreement overnight.

While the Dow was up 450 points and the S&P 500 rose 0.6%, the Nasdaq slipped into the red. The Dow soared more than 2,100 points Tuesday, or over 11%, notching its biggest one-day percentage gain since 1933 and its best point increase ever. The S&P 500 rallied 9.4% for its best day since October 2008.

White House and Senate leaders agreed to a massive $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill in the middle of the night.

“At last we have a deal,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said around 1:37 a.m. ET from the floor of the Senate. “In effect, this is a war-time level of investment into our nation.”

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also said Wednesday the U.S. economy will experience a quick rebound after a “very sharp” recession. “If there’s not too much damage done to the workforce, to the businesses during the shutdown period, however long that may be, then we could see a fairly quick rebound,” Bernanke told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Bernanke added the current situation is “much closer to a major snowstorm” than the Great Depression.

He also acknowledged current Fed Chairman Jerome Powell moved quickly to stem the economic blow from the outbreak. “I think the Fed has been extremely proactive, and Jay Powell and his team have been working really hard and gotten ahead of this and shown they can set up a whole bunch of diverse programs that will help us keep the economy functioning during this shutdown period.”

Still, some investors think the number of global coronavirus cases needs to improve before the market can form a bottom.

Spain experienced a record spike in coronavirus deaths, with 504 reported for Tuesday. Globally, more than 400,000 cases have been confirmed, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., more than 55,000 cases have been confirmed along with over 69,000 in Italy.

Peter Oppenheimer, chief global equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, said there are four “components” to the market stabilizing from here:

″(i) A sign that the policy intervention is sufficient to prevent severe second- and third-round economic shocks; (ii) A sign that the infection rate is reaching a peak; (iii) A sign that the economic downturn may be slowing; and (iv) Cheap valuations,” Oppenheimer wrote in a note to clients. “In reality, we believe it will be a combination of these, and in some cases there are already signs these are in place.”



Some investors believed the stock market was overdue for a big bounce, having priced in a worst-case scenario regarding the economic damage being done by coronavirus-related shutdowns. They believe a bounce could occur here even as coronavirus cases continue to surge because the market was so oversold.









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Market Turbulence: Investors Sell Bonds And Bank Stocks In Europe On Fears Of A Deeper Slowdown

The market rout in stocks spilled into the corporate-debt markets Friday after investors began to more fully assess the harm that prolonged economic disruption from the coronavirus could do to highly indebted companies.

Reaction to the virus had been relatively muted in credit markets, where yields on even riskier junk bonds and loans had remained below levels seen during the selloff in late 2018. However, data on Thursday showed accelerating withdrawals from U.S. high-yield bond and loan funds in the past week, which was followed by a drop in European bank stocks driven by investors’ concerns over loan losses.

In Europe, the cost of protection on risky corporate credit jumped to its highest level in nearly four years on the leading IHS Markit index of riskier credit derivatives, the iTraxx Crossover. The cost rose to more than €388,000 ($436,000) annually to cover €10 million of bonds.

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This followed a sharp rise in the U.S. CDX High Yield index, showing that it cost more than $409,000 annually to protect $10 million of bonds at the close on Thursday. The price of a BlackRock Inc. exchange-traded fund that often serves as a proxy for the high-yield market—known by its ticker symbol HYG—fell to about $84.68 from $86.02 Thursday.

While selling was broad-based, bonds of companies in sectors that could be most affected by the spread of the coronavirus, such as travel and energy, fell especially sharply. The yield investors demanded to hold short-term bonds of American Airlines Group Inc. jumped as high as 12.4% from 5% earlier in the week, with prices falling as low as 86 cents on the dollar from 92.75 cents Thursday, according to MarketAxess.

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Amid a steep decline in oil prices, a Laredo Petroleum Inc. 9.5% bond due in 2025, which was issued at par in January, fell to 57.5 cents on the dollar from 69 cents Thursday.

Friday’s selling is notable because credit markets are critical to the functioning of the economy. Earlier this week, companies of varying credit quality were still issuing bonds, and the average yield of U.S. speculative-grade bonds remained below levels from last summer, according to Bloomberg Barclays data. But extended volatility could make it difficult for companies to borrow, exacerbating any economic hit from the coronavirus.

Today was the day when it flipped from equity market leadership of the selloff to credit market leadership,” said Barnaby Martin, head of European credit strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “We were building up vulnerabilities…this is what happens when the market reaches for yield, which is hubris.”

The rush to buy protection and withdrawal from bonds was driven by dedicated credit funds being forced to cut back positions, amplified by a lack of liquidity in the markets, according to one senior credit trader in London.

This follows a wave of withdrawals from U.S. funds that invest in riskier credit, according to LCD, the loan research arm of S&P Global Market Intelligence. More than $5 billion was pulled from U.S. high-yield bond mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in the week to March 4, up from $4.2 billion the week before, according to Refinitiv Lipper. There had been net inflows, year to date, before last week.

Funds that invest in risky loans, typically used to fund private-equity-backed companies, have also seen growing outflows, with $2.3 billion pulled in the week to March 4, bringing the total outflow over the past seven weeks to $4.7 billion, according to LCD.

After two weeks of equity market declines, corporate debt investors and analysts are growing more concerned about how economic disruption brought about by the coronavirus will hurt the cash flow and the credit quality of weaker companies, and particularly of smaller companies that typically have less capacity to bridge a drop on cash flows.

This is also one reason why bank stocks are getting hit, particularly in Europe, where there is already wide disruption to travel and one U.K. airline has been pushed into insolvency. The Euro Stoxx Banks index has dropped 7.5% in the past two days and is now down 24% since cases were reported in Italy in late February.

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Some analysts are now beginning to worry more about highly indebted businesses, and where exposures to them lie through the system of investment funds and structured products known collectively as the shadow banking sector.

“We are concerned that there are skeletons out there in closets we may not be aware of that come out in times like this, particularly leverage from the shadow banking system,” John Briggs, head of Americas strategy at NatWest Markets in New York, wrote in a Friday morning note. “I also worry about the small and medium sized businesses in particular.”





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Is It Too Late To Invest In The Soaring Stock Market?

The Dow and Nasdaq are both approaching splashy numerical milestones. The Dow is about 2% away from topping 30,000 while the Nasdaq is less than 2% from 10,000 after hitting a new record high on Wednesday.

So is it finally time for investors to bail on stocks? It’s only natural for people to start worrying about a top and a looming correction (or even a bear market.)

But selling stocks just because indexes hit splashy new highs is silly. Long-term investors know that even if the market has occasional hiccups, stocks tend to keep climbing over the long haul.

“In general, round numbers are noise that don’t mean much for investors, even if it sometimes takes a few trading sessions to get past those milestones,” said Doug Peta, chief US investment strategist with BCA Research.

Peta said he thinks the market could keep rising if the coronavirus outbreak doesn’t wind up hurting American companies beyond the first quarter. Apple has already warned of supply chain disruptions in China and a hit to sales in Asia.

But central banks around the globe, including the Federal Reserve, might cut rates further and inject more stimulus into the global economy because of coronavirus concerns, Peta believes.

The net result could be a boom later this year for profits and the economy.

Coronavirus may not end the bull market

“A potential silver lining for stocks is that we will get a vigorous enough policy response around the world that offsets the coronavirus,” Peta said. “If that happens, there is a clear runway for the next three quarters to be pretty darn good for global growth.”

In such a scenario, investors will be more willing to pay higher prices for US stocks — particularly companies in the economically cyclical tech, financials and energy sectors, says Brian Bannister, head of institutional equity strategy for Stifel.

Bannister wrote in a report last week that he was raising his official price target for the S&P 500 to 3,450 from a previous level of 3,260. He added that in a perfect scenario where a “recession wall of worry is hurdled,” the S&P 500 could hit 3,800 — a nice round number that is 12% higher than then its current price.

But some experts are worried that investors are too quick to dismiss the coronavirus threat and other potential market concerns, such as risks tied to the US presidential election and surging valuations for momentum stocks like Tesla.

Bullishness has “morphed into complacency” according to Julian Emanuel, managing director and chief equity and derivatives strategist with BTIG Research. Emanuel said in a recent report that this “frenetic” rally could be a “dress rehearsal” for an imminent correction or even a market bubble bursting as it did in 2000.

Bond rally is a sign investors aren’t complacent or irrational

Still, others maintain that the market’s relentless march higher is rational. Even as stocks climb, investors are still plowing money into safer bond funds, pushing yields even lower in the process. That’s partly because of hopes that the Fed will cut rates but it’s also a sign of a flight to safety as investors hedge their bets.

“Bond investors aren’t necessarily expecting slower growth, but they are expecting the Fed to cut rates and help stem further weakness,” said Jason Draho, head of asset allocation for the Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management, in a report.

“Inflows into bonds has been strong all year. Thus, there’s little sign that retail investors are chasing the rally,” Draho said. “This is not at all indicative of irrational sentiment.”

As long as companies post decent gains in earnings and revenue and the Fed and other central bankers keep rates relatively low, the bull market may have more room to run.




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And as the market climbs, each new 1,000 point barrier is actually a bit easier to top. For example, the Dow only has to go up 3.4% to get from 29,000 to 30,000. But the climb from 19,000 to 20,000 back in January 2017 required a 5.3 % increase.

Sure, a lot of people still snicker about the Dow 36,000 book from 1999 and point to it as Exhibit A for the market mania two decades ago. Now the Dow is only about 23% away from hitting that once seemingly unthinkable target.




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30-Year Treasury Yield Drops To All-Time Low Of 1.89%

The 30-year Treasury yield plunged to a record low on Friday as the coronavirus outbreak intensified fears about slowing global economic growth and caused investors to crowd into bonds. A weak reading on the U.S. services economy also helped send yields lower.


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The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond dropped about 8 basis points to hit an all-time low of 1.892% in morning trading on Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to price, fell 7 basis points to around 1.453%, its lowest level since Sep. 4.

The benchmark 10-year yield has fallen nearly 50 basis points this year, while the longer-duration bond rate has also plunged by about the same magnitude.

Investors grew increasingly concerned about the potential economic fallout of China’s fast-spreading coronavirus. China’s National Health Commission reported Friday that 75,465 cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed, with 2,236 deaths nationwide.

“There isn’t anything the data can reveal on the positive side which would be sufficient to offset the coronavirus jitters that have once again weighed on risk assets and pressured rates lower,” Ian Lyngen, BMO’s head of U.S. rates, said in a note on Friday.

Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned the further spread of the deadly flu-like virus would amplify its global economic impact, with a long-lasting outbreak likely to result “in a sharper and more protracted slowdown in China.”

South Korea reported 52 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, taking the country’s death toll to 156. Meanwhile, Japan reported the first fatalities from aboard the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in Yokohama since early February.



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Concerns about economy?
Friday’s weak economic data also pushed the yields down. The IHS Markit services purchasing manager’s index dipped into contraction territory for February, hitting its lowest level since 2013.

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While coronavirus is the latest concern for the economy, investors have been worrying about growth and the lack of inflation for a while now. Despite some upticks over the last few years, bond yields have consistently returned back to their downtrend.

Many investors have blamed global central banks’ persistent monetary easing measures for the falling yields. Global policy makers have been slashing interest rates at the fastest rate since the financial crisis, with more than 25 cuts since the start of 2019, according to Deutsche Bank.

The bond market has been a source of concern for investors for a while now. Last summer, the benchmark 10-year yields dipped below the 2-year rate, inverting a key part of the yield curve. The inversion has been a reliable recession indicator as the phenomenon has preceded every recession over the past 50 years.


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Stock Market Today: Markets rebound, Investors Reassured by Beijing’s Response to the Coronavirus

Stock Market News Today — US stocks hit records, with the S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average each hitting all-time intraday highs soon after the open.

Asian markets rebounded from the previous session’s sell-off. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.3 per cent, recovering some of Tuesday’s losses, while shares in mainland China rebounded off year-lows to close higher. European markets nudged higher.

“The spread of a new coronavirus across Asia and into the US is clearly a major public health concern, but we suspect that its economic effects will be modest,” said Jennifer McKeown, head of global economics at Capital Economics.

The coronavirus has killed nine people and infected at least 440 in China, and has since spread to other Asian countries and North America. Controlling the outbreak has now reached a critical stage as more than 100m Chinese prepare to board trains and aeroplanes to return home for the Lunar New Year.

The outbreak has evoked memories of China’s Sars crisis in 2003, but markets have been reassured by a higher degree of urgency and transparency in controlling the disease.

“The speed with which this virus has been identified is testament to changes in public health in China since Sars and strong global co-ordination through the World Health Organisation,” Jeremy Farrar, director of health research foundation Wellcome, said.

In 2003, the Sars outbreak sent Hong Kong into recession and the Hang Seng index fell nearly 7.5 per cent in the first quarter, but the market quickly recovered throughout the rest of the year.

Economists at Deutsche Bank said the effects from an escalation of the coronavirus would be felt in the local retail, travel and hotel and catering industries, but that these would likely recover quickly and most service, trade and manufacturing activities would not be seriously affected.

Investors are moderating their concerns over the virus,” the bank’s strategist Jim Reid said.

Government bonds were stable while the China’s offshore renminbi was flat after its weakest day in five months on Tuesday.




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Plus500 is a streamlined broker that focuses on trading in a wide range of financial markets with relatively low spreads and no commissions but without offering many extra services. Plus500 has been in the forex and CFD business since 2008. They are registered in the U.K. and licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The company offers access to a comprehensive product line including forex, stock indexes, equities, commoditiescryptocurrencies, ETFs and options. Plus500 is the first broker to introduce a bitcoin CFD in 2013. The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades.

All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platformPlus500 Ltd. (PLUS.L) is a publicly traded company on the AIM section of the London Stock Exchange since 2013 with a £1.73 billion ($2.25 billion) market capitalization and clients in more than 50 countries around the world. Plus500 offers access to more than 2,000 trading instruments.


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Trust … the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), CySEC, ASIC, FSCA, FMA, MAS, and the ISA, which provides good accountability and visibility. The company is required to take steps to ensure client funds are not comingled with corporate funds – ensuring that client money and assets are protected in the unlikely event that Plus500 becomes insolvent – by holding those funds in segregated accounts at regulated banks.

If Plus500 defaults, any shortfall of funds of up to £50,000 may be compensated for under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). If the custodian bank holding client funds goes into liquidation, any shortfall of funds of up to £85,000 may be compensated for under the FSCS.

Plus500 also offers Negative Balance Protection, ensuring that clients cannot lose more than they have put into their account. Guaranteed stop losses can be used on some instruments depending on market conditions but they are subject to a wider spread.

The company does not charge commissions on any of its trades. All costs are contained within the spread for each of more than 2,000 trading instruments offered on Plus500’s WebTrader platform. Large volume traders do not get a trading discount at Plus500 and the spread is the same whether you trade one lot or 1,000 lots.

There are no charges for normal withdrawals or terminating an account. However, inactivity fees kick in after an account has been idle for three months. Beginning traders can open an account with as little as £100.

Traders can qualify for a “professional” account, which offers a higher level of maximum leverage, but the costs are the same. Investors with a professional account may increase their maximum leverage ten-fold, from 1:30 to 1:300.Spreads at Plus500 were some of the lowest in the market.

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This classic text is annotated to update Graham’s timeless wisdom for today’s market conditions… The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham, taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham’s philosophy of “value investing” — which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies — has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.

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