By Lorcan Roche Kelly
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved to intensive care yesterday after his condition worsened. Officials said he was receiving oxygen, but was conscious and not on a ventilator. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is now deputizing for Johnson. While the situation in the U.K. — and the U.S. — seems set to worsen this week, there are encouraging signs from previous centers of the outbreak. China reported no new cases of the virus for the first time since the country started publishing the number of infections in January, while some of the worst-hit countries in Europe are showing a clear slowdown. Japan declared a state of emergency in seven prefectures, including Tokyo, and the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a stimulus package of nearly $1 trillion.
Talks between the world’s largest oil producers on an unprecedented deal to slash output as the industry is devastated by the coronavirus crisis are continuing with all sides seeking numbers everyone can live with. There is a meeting between all sides scheduled for Thursday, but Saudi Arabia and Russia want the U.S. at the table, something President Donald Trump has shown little willingness to do. So far, investors remain hopeful that a deal can be reached, with oil gaining some ground in markets this morning as the ongoing talks add to hopes of a quick turnaround in the economy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats on a private conference call that the next House stimulus package will be at least $1 trillion, with the aim to replenish funds for programs established under the last $2.2 trillion virus relief bill. She said that she wants the new stimulus to be passed this month, even though the House is not back in session until April 20. Elsewhere, European finance ministers are meeting today as they try to agree joint measures to combat what German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the EU’s biggest challenge since it was created.
Yesterday’s huge 7% rally into the close for the S&P 500 is setting the tone for markets today as global gauges add to gains. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 2.4% while Japan’s Topix index closed 2% higher as the government there laid out its stimulus plan. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index had gained 2.3% by 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time with national benchmarks rising more than 20% from their recent lows. S&P 500 futures pointed to more green at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 0.744% and gold slipped.
There is unlikely to be any useful information in February JOLTS job openings numbers when they are published at 10:00 a.m. President Trump today has a meeting with small businesses at 3:00 p.m., with the White House task force briefing at 5:00 p.m. Following a Supreme Court decision yesterday, the Wisconsin primary will go ahead as originally scheduled, blocking Governor Tony Evers’ last minute attempt to delay in-person voting by executive order. Levi Strauss & Co. are among the companies reporting earnings.