By Lorcan Roche Kelly
Almost 10 million barrels
The world’s top oil producers agreed to cut output by 9.7 million barrels a day after a week-long marathon of negotiations led to a pact on how to tackle the pandemic’s impact on global demand. The market seems to have been positioned for a successful outcome to the talks, which Goldman Sachs Group Inc. described as “historic, yet insufficient.” One of the biggest losers from the deal is Russia, with the country agreeing to cut production by 2.5 million barrels, more than Saudi Arabia. Market reaction has been less positive than may have been expected, with crude trading little changed.
Looking to open
As the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., debate is turning to when the country’s economy can start to reopen. Dr. Anthony Fauci said some emergency measures could be eased next month in some places, but that there is no universal “light switch” to turn everything back to normal. He said widespread testing would be key to relaxing isolation measures. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson left hospital to continue his recovery at home with the nation’s death toll passing 10,000. There are more signs that the outbreak is in decline across much of continental Europe.
Guidance? What guidance?
Earnings season kicks off this week, and it is shaping up to be one like no other. Stock analysts are at an almost complete loss as to how to forecast company performance during the pandemic, with one measure showing the difference between the high and low estimates for company earnings at a near record spread. The fundamental obstacle to coming up with a damage assessment for corporate balance sheets is that nobody knows how long the crisis will continue, leaving any prediction based on much guesswork.
Global markets are starting the week on the back foot an investors sentiment continues to be dominated by uncertainty. Overnight, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.6% while Japan’s Topix index closed 1.7% lower as the yen rallied against the dollar. European markets were closed for a holiday. Futures for all three main U.S. equity indexes pointed to losses at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 0.747% and gold lost some ground.
There is a standoff developing between the White House and airlines over Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s insistence that the companies partially repay the tax-payer funded bailout they are due to receive under the stimulus plan. Airlines are seeking to negotiate the terms with the Treasury Department. Also in trouble is the U.S. Postal Service which did not get the $25 billion in additional funding some members of Congress had called for in the stimulus plan, meaning its financial future remains precarious just as Americans are relying on it more than they have in years.