Weekly Market Framework – Week of April 13, 2020
Critical Market Context for the Week Ahead
Last week, U.S. equity markets posted double-digit gains following encouraging data showing that coronavirus infections may be peaking, as the rate of new cases appears to be slowing in multiple geographies, including Europe and New York City. The rate of hospitalization from the virus is also declining in New York, which has been the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak.
Against this backdrop, the S&P 500 Index posted its highest weekly gain in more than 45 years during the holiday-shortened week, gaining just over 12% in trading from the previous Friday close. Small caps showed even greater gains through close of trading Thursday afternoon, with the Russell 2000 soaring nearly 19%.
However, despite the slowing rate of new infections, the total global number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. The global count of confirmed cases has climbed to over 1.8 million, as of early Monday morning. The United States now has more than half a million confirmed cases, more than triple the case count of Spain, the country with the second-highest number of confirmed infections.
On Thursday, The Federal Reserve announced it would pump an additional round of monetary stimulus into the U.S. economy.
The Fed’s commitment to support the faltering economy could expand to as much as $2.3 trillion, according to the Fed’s official press release. These new facilities are yet another injection of liquidity from the U.S. central bank, whose support of Treasury securities and corporate credit was already unprecedented.
The magnitude of the Fed’s liquidity commitments now far exceeds the scope of what it provided during the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09. In addition, the Fed also announced it would begin to purchase sub-investment grade credits, more commonly known as junk bonds.
The brutal toll coronavirus has taken on the U.S. labor markets continued to grind ahead last week. On Thursday, 6.6 million additional Americans filed for unemployment benefits during the prior week, according to official data released by the Department of Labor. While the number of new claims fell slightly from a record high of 6.6 million the week before, the total number of Americans who have filed unemployment claims since mid-March now exceeds 16 million.
Finally, The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, a widely cited measure of American consumer confidence, fell to its lowest level since 2009 — and posted its largest month-over-month decline in the history of the index.