Week 10 in Brief
The week was largely dominated by the #COVID-19 news. According to a global tracking dashboard developed by John Hopkins University, at the time of writing over 110,000 cases have been confirmed, with 3,825 deaths and over 62, 053 successful recoveries. Cases had initially been concentrated in China and the Asian region but that is changing on a massive scale as the virus knocks on American and European doors.
Fears of a Europe-wide epidemic continue to grow. In Europe, Italy is the hardest-hit country with more than 7,300 Coronavirus patients and 366 deaths which has led to a lockdown of much of the northern part of the country and a travel restriction that has affected about 15 million people. It’s expected that key educational, entertainment, sports, and religious facilities will be shut to prevent the spread of the virus. In France, over 1,100 cases have been reported with at least 19 deaths; Germany has reported 847 cases, Spain 647 cases and 17 fatalities and the United Kingdom has reported 273 cases and 3 fatalities.
In the UK, supermarkets have started rationing to combat panic buying as stockpiling has led to empty shelves at some UK supermarkets. But shortages may be short-lived. “Tesco has begun restricting sales of essential food and household items amid growing reports of stockpiling and panic buying because of the coronavirus outbreak. Customers will be limited to buying no more than five of certain products, including antibacterial gels, dry pasta, long-life milk, and some tinned vegetables.”
In the Western hemisphere, cases are mostly concentrated in the U.S with over 500 infections and 22 deaths. Top U.S. officials have said that there is a likelihood of regional lockdowns to contain the virus.
Markets continued to nose-dive as the virus outbreaks multiplied and companies stepped up measures to contain economic damages. On Thursday, the volatility was evident as the #S&P 500 fell more than 3 percent. The S&P index has been rising and falling below or more than 3% on six different days in the past two weeks, something that has not happened even once in the last 12 months, according to the New York Times.
Last Friday, stocks continued to drop in Asia, with the Tokyo market going down more than 3% while shares in the Hong Kong market went down 2%.
In the commodities markets, in the wake of the oil price crash and reduced demand for oil, oil producers are looking for a large cut to production. The #OPEC proposed Thursday that oil output be curbed by 1.5 million barrels a day to deal with the effects of the #COVID-19 on-demand, especially as more planes remain on the tarmac and ships docked. Prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell about 0.8% to $50.71 a barrel after the announcement.
__Forecasts for this week? __
A tough week for financial markets is expected as Asian markets continue to plunge as investors factor increasing impacts of the spread of the #Coronavirus in Europe and the United State and react to turmoil in the oil markets after a clash between Russia and Saudi Arabia over oil prices.
Saudi Arabia slashed its export oil prices over the weekend, starting an apparent price war with Russia. We will watch the week and update you with news as they come.