Stocks – Europe Seen Lower; More Stimulus Needed

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By Peter Nurse – European stock markets are set to open lower Monday, with investors worried about the extent of support from policymakers to combat the economic damage from the coronavirus as the number of cases continue to rise sharply around the world. 

At 3:29 AM ET (0729 GMT), the contract traded 0.9% lower. were down 1.1%, while the contract in the U.K. fell 1.3%. 

Trillions of dollars of support have been injected into markets and the broader economy in the last week or so, but investors are still looking to policymakers for more support in the coming days with companies losing customers and workers being thrown out of jobs. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard warned on Sunday that the U.S. economy could shrink by an annualized 50% in the second quarter as the virus reaches its peak.

Worse, U.S. politicians failed to agree on the terms of a funding package of more than $1 trillion, resulting in it not getting enough votes in a key Senate procedural vote late Sunday.

All the while, the number of confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus continues to rise. Globally, there are now over 330,000 confirmed cases, more than doubling in the last week, and approaching 15,000 deaths.

In corporate news, Airbus (PA:) announced new steps on Monday to bolster its financial position as the pandemic cripples the travel industry, including the signing of a credit facility for 15 billion euros ($16.1 billion).

The European planemaker added it was withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance, dropping a proposed 2019 dividend that had a cash value of 1.4 billion euros and suspending funding to top up staff pension schemes.

Royal Dutch Shell (LON:) (), meanwhile, said it will cut its capital spending program by over $5 billion as part of a package of measures aimed at saving between $8 billion and $9 billion. The company said nothing about its dividend, which hasn’t been cut since the Second World War.

Economic indicators are limited in number in Europe Monday, with the eurozone consumer confidence figure, at 11 AM ET (1500 GMT), set to show a sharp drop, unsurprisingly. 

However, the PMI data coming out later this week in the U.S., U.K. as well as the eurozone will be of interest as they are likely to provide the most comprehensive overview so far of the coronavirus impact.

The positive tone seen in the oil markets as last week drew to an end has largely disappeared. 

On Friday, OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo invited Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton to the organisation’s summer meeting in June. This invitation quickly raised hopes for a deal to stabilize oil prices, and Sitton did call for reduced production of Texan crude output for the first time since 1970. 

However, with neither Saudi Arabia nor Russia backing down in the ongoing price war, it seems unlikely that it will be the U.S. that bends first. 

futures traded 0.1% higher at $22.66 a barrel, recovering a little. The international benchmark contract fell 3.5% to $26.05.

Elsewhere, rose 0.4% to $1,491.10/oz, while traded at 1.0728, up 0.3% on the day.


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