Stocks slump but oil continues to rise
The week ended with Wall Street down around 1.5%, triggered by the latest U.S. unemployment numbers which indicate that the job picture in March was the worst since March 2009, the trough of the Great Recession. The backdrop remains the rising number of COVID-19 cases in America, with New York comprising around 40% of all U.S. cases and recording its biggest death toll to date. The news is grim, but not unexpected. On Tuesday, Trump and his medical advisors warned that this week and next would be “very, very painful.” The Dow is down 29% from its record high in mid-February. On Friday, utilities, financials, materials and especially travel were down. American Express and JP Morgan both shed nearly 4%. Healthcare continued to enjoy gains, with Pfizer rising 2.34%, as did food. Coca-Cola popped 4% and Beyond Meat sizzled by 3.38%.
The TSX fared a little better, losing 1.22% on Friday with investors hoping that Monday’s emergency OPEC meeting, including OPEC+ member Russia, will result in easing or ending the oil war that has inflicted more pain on battered world markets. Like the day before, Friday’s biggest gainers on Bay Street were all oil names, starting with Nuvista (36%) and including Crescent Point (11.81%) at high volumes. WCS oil leapt $3 to nearly $12.
Looking ahead, investors are taking note of China’s rebound. Last Tuesday’s PMI figure of 52, easily beat expectations of 44.8 and soared above the previous month’s (February) of 35.7. Though China still has a ways ago to full recovery, the PMI remains hopeful news for western economies that are still struggling with the virus. According to Johns Hopkins live data, new cases in Germany and Britain continue to rise, but Italy has been leveling off this week and Spain has been holding steady.