Coronavirus fear grips global financial markets

Markets surge as US coronavirus infections fall slightly

Traders focus on glimmers of positive signs suggesting crisis is peaking in US

Justin Vallejo
New York
Tuesday 07 April 2020 00:31
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Optimism over a slight slowdown in new coronavirus infections saw US stocks close near session highs on Monday.

In the market's best day since 24 March, the Dow finished up 7.7 per cent, or 1,627 points, the S&P 500 closed 7 per cent higher, and the Nasdaq Composite ended up 7.3 per cent.

Companies that drove the market higher included Boeing (19 per cent), Raytheon Technologies, American Express and Visa (11 per cent each), as well as tech stocks Microsoft (7 per cent), Alphabet (3.3 per cent) and Amazon (3.4 per cent.)

While the number of US deaths passed 10,000 and Americans prepared for what is expected to be the worst week so far of the pandemic, the market focused on the glimmers of positive signs suggesting the crisis is peaking in the US.

The epicentre of the US outbreak, New York City, reported its first daily decline in coronavirus deaths.

The total number of US cases per day also slowed to 28,200 on Sunday, down from a peak of 33,260 on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Similar slowdowns in daily deaths and infections in Italy and Spain also resulted in movement in Europe's Stoxx 600, which jumped 3.7 per cent.

It has been a turbulent ride for investors since the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, the US stock market suffered its fastest decline ever plummeting 20 per cent from its peak in only 15 days. The Dow last week posted its biggest weekly gain since 1938, surging more than 12 per cent.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon wrote in an annual shareholder letter that he expects a "bad recession combined with some kind of financial stress similar to the global financial crisis of 2008."

He added that in the worst-case scenario gross domestic product could plunge at a 35 per cent annual rate in the second quarter with a downturn lasting through the rest of next year, with the unemployment rate spiking as high as 14 per cent in the fourth quarter.

"Recognising the extraordinary extension of new credit... and knowing there will be a major recession mean that we are exposing ourselves to billions of dollars of additional credit losses as we help both consumer and business customers through these difficult times," he wrote.

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