By Lorcan Roche Kelly
President Donald Trump has decided to temporarily halt America’s funding for the World Health Organization, accusing the body of failing to share information on the pandemic and taking China’s claims about coronavirus “at face value.” The move has attracted widespread criticism from health experts, and from China where a foreign ministry spokesman restated his country’s support for the organization. Trump’s decision comes as the U.S. is now firmly the center of the global outbreak, with more evidence transmission is ebbing in Europe.
Wall Street earnings season continues today with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp, and Citigroup Inc. all due to report before the bell this morning. Yesterday’s numbers from JPMorgan Chase & Co. showed profits plunged 69% to the lowest level in more than six years, with the bank setting aside the biggest provision for loan losses in at least a decade. The provisions in today’s reports will be watched closely, while investors will harbour hopes of a JPMorgan-style jump in trading revenues.
The International Energy Agency said in its latest report on the oil market this morning that the world risks running out of places to store crude as it predicts global demand to fall by 9% this year. The report warned that the logistics of the industry could be overwhelmed “in the coming weeks.” Despite the agreement from OPEC and its allies to reduce production by almost 10 million barrels per day, the outlook from the IEA was enough to put further pressure on oil with a barrel of West Texas Intermediate for May delivery trading firmly below $20 in the wake of the release.
The drop in oil prices is helping push equity markets further into the red this morning. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.4% while Japan’s Topix index closed broadly unchanged amid speculation that the Bank of Japan would step in with more ETF purchases. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 1.8% lower at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time with energy companies the worst performers as every sector of the gauge traded lower. S&P 500 futures pointed to a similar loss at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 0.682% and gold slipped.