Monday April 20th


Dow futures drop more than 500 points to start the week as oil prices decline

U.S. stock index futures traded lower early Monday morning as investors weighed the latest coronavirus news along with a sharp decline in U.S. crude prices. The market was coming off its first back-to-back weekly gains in more than two months. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 531 points, pointing to a Monday opening drop of around 500 points. S&P 500 futures dropped 1.8% while Nasdaq 100 futures lost 1.2%  Stock futures were following a decline in U.S. oil prices, which raise concerns about how deep the economic slowdown will be this quarter and also hit the prices of energy stocks. The May contract for West Texas Intermediate, which expires on Tuesday, plunged more than 28% to $13.02 per barrel on weak demand outlook and storage capacity issues. The negative impact on stock futures from oil likely would have been worse were it not for lesser declines in oil contracts expiring during future months. WTI’s June contract slid over 8% to $22.78 per barrel. July’s oil contract was down 5%. It was a strange phenomenon that analysts chalked up to the collapse in demand for oil contracts expiring this week. Refineries don’t need the oil and are near storage capacity with most of the country shut down. “The moves in the oil market are really just unbelievable now that we are literally running out of storage space,” Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, said in a note. “I do believe that these types of moves is what bottoms are made of and in May and June when things start to reopen again it will go a long way in helping along with the production cuts.” Stocks got a jolt last week after a report said patients with severe virus symptoms were quickly recovering after using remdesivir, a Gilead Sciences drug. The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all rose more than 2% last week. Last week’s gains also put the S&P 500 and Dow more than 30% above their intraday lows set on March 23. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday the state is “past the high point” of new cases, noting the infection rate has fallen along with coronavirus-related hospitalizations. Cuomo added New York will roll out antibody testing this week. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said Saturday: “We’re flattening the curve.” In Washington, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration and Congress were close to striking a deal on a second round of loans for small businesses. A $349 billion rescue loan program ran out of money on Thursday. “The equity markets and bond markets in the US are telling me that my relatively optimistic outlook for the global economy is also what the markets are starting to price in,” Stephen Jen, co-founder of SLJ Macro Partners, wrote in a note. “There is now light at end of the tunnel.” “While nobody should be under the illusion that the virus will be eradicated soon, it is important to the equity markets that we have gone through most of the known ‘rolling apexes,’ through mitigation measures,” Jen said. But while the market may be pricing in an improvement in the virus outbreak, recent economic data has been dismal. Over the past month, 22 million jobs have been lost, weekly unemployment claims numbers from the Labor Department showed. The number of coronavirus related deaths have also risen to more than 165,000 globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., the death toll has risen to over 41,000. Asia Pacific stocks were mixed on Monday as China cut its benchmark lending rate. Mainland Chinese stocks were higher on the day. The Shanghai composite gained 0.5% to around 2,852.55 while the Shenzhen composite edged 1.005% higher to about 1,767.86. That came as China cut its one-year loan prime rate to 3.85% from 4.05%. The five-year loan prime rate was also reduced to 4.65% from 4.75%. The moves marked the second cut to the loan prime rates for 2020. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dipped 0.24%, as of its final hour of trading. Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 1.15% to close at 19,669.12 while the Topix index shed 0.7% to finish its trading day at 1,432.41. Over in South Korea, the Kospi dipped 0.84% to close at 1,898.36. Gold prices fell to a more than one-week low on Monday as the dollar firmed and as investors remained optimistic that the U.S. economy might reopen soon from lockdowns that were enforced to contain the novel coronavirus’ spread. Spot gold fell 0.5% to $1,675.92 per ounce by 0038 GMT, having touched its lowest since April 9 earlier in the session. The metal slumped about 2% on Friday. U.S. gold futures slipped 0.7% to $1,687.20. The dollar strengthened 0.1% against key rivals, making gold costlier for investors holding other currencies.