Please find this week’s edition of Weekly digest attached.
As of the latest numbers, confirmed cases of the coronavirus now stand at 71,331, while confirmed deaths stand at 1,775. The number of new daily infections has been falling over the last few days – on Sunday, there were 2,064 new infections reported, down from 2,657 on Friday. The daily growth rate has dropped from 9% to 3%:
Today, the Peoples’ Bank of China announced a cut to a key lending rate to stimulate the economy in the light of the alarm caused by the virus (e.g. see below a graph of visitors to Hong Kong). Chinese equity markets responded well to this news this morning, with the Shanghai Shenzen 300 index rising by 2.1%.
Equity markets were relatively static last week, with the MSCI World index flat in sterling terms, though the US traded stronger and the S&P 500 made a new all-time high. In Japan, the Nikkei closed down 0.7% after the release of Japanese GDP data in the fourth quarter. On an annualised basis, GDP fell 6.3% quarter-on-quarter, versus an expectation of minus 3.8%. In Europe, GDP data showed that the German economy stagnated in the fourth quarter. Oil prices strengthened over the week, after weakening substantially over fears on the economic impact of the coronavirus, and gold prices remain firm at $1,582 per troy ounce.
We are in the thick of company reporting season at the moment, and this week looks particularly busy. Reporting this week we have HSBC, Lloyds and Smith & Nephew amongst others. Of the 389 S&P 500 companies who have reported so far, 76% have reported a positive surprise on earnings. We also have a busy week for economic news, with the release of the minutes from the US and European central banks’ January meetings. We also have the release of inflation data for a number of countries, while globally we have a broad array of purchasing manager index survey data.