U.S. equity markets finished the day lower, with the S&P 500 -0.18%, the Dow -0.15%, the Nasdaq -0.33%, and the Russell 2000 -0.09%.
Asian and European markets rallied again in hopes that coronavirus cases were easing.
Asian markets rose overnight. China reported no new daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since January. This is another sign the global outbreak may be subsiding. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a larger-than-expected stimulus package worth $998 billion to support the economy. Chinese markets reopened from a holiday, playing catch-up with yesterday’s global rally.
European markets gained. Eurozone finance ministers are reportedly set to agree on a $543 billion stimulus package to support their economies. Austria became the first European country to map out lifting of the coronavirus lockdown, with more countries preparing similar measures. The number of new coronavirus infections in Italy fell again versus the prior data. The Italian Ministry of Health said new cases rose by 3,039 versus 3,599 yesterday and 4,316 on Sunday. Spain’s Ministry of Health in Madrid said the number of new COVID-19 cases grew by 5,478 versus yesterday’s 4,273. This is the seventh day in a row that new COVID-19 cases failed to rise above the March 31 peak of 9,222.
U.S. markets were higher for most of the day, before selling off into the close. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told members of her party on a conference call the next stimulus bill to come before Congress will be worth at least $1 trillion. The Senate is also planning to expand the small business lending program, with another $250 billion reportedly coming. During a daily briefing on the situation in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said projections indicate coronavirus cases are beginning to plateau. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the economy could reopen within the next four to eight weeks, though he added the U.S. economy is set for a sharp contraction. Late in the day, President Donald Trump held a call with bank executives, reiterating he expects the economy to snap back sharply when the pandemic is over. He also added the administration would take the boldest actions in history to support small businesses.
Congress is readying more support for small businesses.
The top sectors today were materials, energy, and financials. Freeport-McMoRan led the materials sector again on a positive note from Credit Suisse and rising copper prices. ExxonMobil (XOM) boosted the energy sector after announcing a massive cut to capital expenditures. Retail continued to experience a relief rally, with Kohl’s (KSS) and Capri Holdings (CPRI) leading the way.
The worst performing sectors were utilities, consumer staples, and technology. Staples and utilities underperformed as defensive sectors. General Mills (GIS) and Kroger (KR) weighed on the sector. Zoom Video (ZM) fell again after Taiwan banned the video platform over cybersecurity concerns.
In the S&P 500, seven of the 11 sectors finished lower.
The leading sectors were Materials +2.39%, Energy +1.96%, and Consumer Discretionary +1.24%.
The laggards were Utilities -1.24%, Consumer Staples -1.22%, and Technology -1.07%.
Oil -5.67% fell on concerns surrounding a potential crude production cut.
Gold -0.60% fell as investors rotated into risk assets like stocks.
Bitcoin +0.34% rose as demand for bitcoin online courses surged by 300%.
Tomorrow, we’re on the lookout for the Federal Reserve minutes for its March meeting.