By Lorcan Roche Kelly
Even as the American toll from the coronavirus rises to more than 23,000, the policy discussion has firmly moved to when the country can start to return to something approaching normality. President Donald Trump declared he has “total” authority to order states to reopen their economies at a White House news conference yesterday. States have rebuffed the president, with some of the nation’s most powerful governors agreeing to form regional alliances to coordinate the easing of restrictions. “We will be driven by facts,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said as he announced a partnership with Washington state and Oregon.
End in sight
Outside the U.S. there are further signs of countries starting to slowly lift restrictions as the outbreak, particularly in Europe, seems to have passed its peak. Spain reported the fewest new cases since March 20, and while there has been no announcement of a reopening of the economy, the country’s health minister said the peak has been reached. France extended its lockdown until May 11, but plans to reopen schools after that date. New cases are also falling in Germany, where there has been an unprecedented level of fiscal support for the economy. The rate of increase in cases seems to be slowing in the U.K. where Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said an extension to current lockdown measures is likely to be announced in the coming days.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. kicks off a hotly anticipated earnings season before the bell this morning. Investors will concentrate on what provisions the bank is taking and comments from Jamie Dimon in his first earnings call since his emergency heart surgery. Wells Fargo & Co. also reports today. Bank shares have already erased 2019’s gains in this year’s ultra-volatile trading.
Markets are putting yesterday’s drop in U.S. stocks behind them as optimism again rises that there is an end in sight to the lockdown in some of the world’s largest economies. Overnight the MSCI Asia Pacific Index rallied 1.7% while Japan’s Topix index closed 2.0% higher. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index was on the cusp of a technical bull market, with the gauge trading 0.6% higher by 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time. S&P 500 futures pointed to a gain at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 0.75% and gold rose to $1,720 an ounce.
At 8:30 a.m., the IMF will publish its World Economic Outlook followed by a briefing on the financial stability report at 11:30 a.m. G-7 finance chiefs are scheduled to hold a video conference. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Chicago Fed President Charles Evans and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic are all due to speak later. As well as the big banks, Johnson & Johnson and JB Hunt Transport Services Ltd. report earnings.