There will be much more on this except for the fact that the bulk of the media is hiding this – I could see no reflection of this in British or NZ media.
US Dow Plunges 943 Points as COVID-19 Cases Spike, Countries Issue Lockdowns
29 October, 2020
US stocks plummeted Wednesday as investor fears over spiking COVID-19 cases across the nation and abroad reignited concerns of a stunted economic recovery, prompting massive sell-offs amid the pandemic.
At closing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index fell by 943.24 points, marking its third day of losses for the week thus far. The S&P 500 sank by 119.65 points, and the Nasdaq Composite dove into red territory with a 426.48-point decline.
Extending their losses, companies such as Delta Air Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. each saw their stocks devalued by nearly 5% as the travel and leisure sector has endured an uphill battle at recovering from pandemic-rooted setbacks.
Crude oil prices fared no better, falling nearly 6% and extending their three-week lows.
Unlike many of the Asian indices, the European markets experienced similar steep declines during the day’s trading, with sell-offs largely driven by indications that both Germany and France would be imposing new lockdown restrictions in an effort to curb recent COVID-19 spikes.
German officials announced later Wednesday that a partial lockdown would be imposed to combat the respiratory illness. French President Emmanuel Macron followed by ordering a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to Worldometer, Germany has reported more than 477,000 COVID-19 cases, whereas France has documented upwards of 1.1 million.
Echoing the pandemic’s early days, reports of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have also seen a massive surge in the US. Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University indicates that the US has documented an average of over 70,000 daily coronavirus cases over the last week, with related hospitalization rates undergoing an uptick.
The university’s latest report notes the US has a 6.19% test positivity ratio, and that new COVID-19 cases are increasing in Texas, Wisconsin, California, Florida and Illinois. In fact, Illinois’ governor recently ordered that bars and indoor dining be closed in several regions of the state until further notice.
With cases on the rise and no economic stimulus in sight, the situation will likely lead to more lockdowns across the US, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday on the outlet’s morning business show “Squawk Box.”
“It’s very hard to buy a lot of stocks when you see these numbers,” Cramer said, before noting that “it’s a shame too, because with stimulus, we’d be very tempted to own some of these stocks.”
“The lockdowns without the stimulus equals what we’re seeing, and I think it’s a shame because had there been stimulus, we would then be focusing on earnings, and the earnings are actually pretty darn good,” he added.
At present, the US is leading the world with over 8.8 million recorded cases of the deadly virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
US stocks cratered on Wednesday as a spike in COVID-19 cases prompted new lockdowns in Europe.
The Dow Jones industrial average’s 3.4% decline marked its worst single-day drop since June 11, while the S&P 500’s 1.9% drop was its largest since September 23.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a deal for a “lockdown light,” in which bars, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters will close for at least a month starting this weekend while schools and nurseries remain open, Bloomberg reported.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced a new national lockdown to begin this Friday and last until December 1, though, like in Germany, schools will remain open, according to Bloomberg.
Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:
The Cboe Volatility Index, or VIX, climbed as high as 40.52, its highest point in more than four months. The VIX has traded at an average of 26.30 since the start of August after registering multiyear highs in March.
While coronavirus case records have fueled concerns about the pace of economic recovery, the prospect of timely fiscal support in the US is all but exhausted. The Senate adjourned on Monday and isn’t set to reconvene until November 9, putting to bed any remaining hope for a stimulus bill. As the recovery slows, some fear that new aid will arrive too late to keep the economy from tumbling again.
Next week’s presidential election has also contributed to the upswing in volatility. While elections typically escalate price swings, the chance of delayed results this year has investors bracing for extended market choppiness.
Technology stocks led the market lower on Wednesday as the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet testified before Congress on Section 230 legislation, while Microsoft’s earnings outlook disappointed investors.
The billionaire investor Stanley Druckenmiller said a blue-wave election outcome could hurt stocks in the long term.
Gold lost ground on Wednesday, falling as much as 2%, to $1,869.53 per ounce
Oil prices tumbled, which dragged energy stocks lower. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 6.6%, to $36.97 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, fell 6%, to $38.75 per barrel, at intraday lows.
France’s Macron Imposes Second Lockdown to Curb COVID-19 Spread
28 October, 2020
French President Emmanuel Macron will reimpose a nationwide lockdown starting Friday to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In a speech Wednesday, Macron explained that universities will be required to transfer to online teaching and that traveling between regions will be prohibited. In addition, residents will be expected to work from home, and the external borders of the Schengen Area remain closed.
“The second wave of the pandemic in France will be more severe and deadly than the first,” the French leader said, adding that more than 35,785 people in the country have died since the start of the pandemic, and in the last 24 hours alone, more than 36,000 people have been infected.
In 24 hours Tuesday, health officials say there were more than 500 virus-related deaths, the highest daily figure since April, France 24 reported.
According to Macron, the measures are expected to remain in place until December 1. If the situation improves in 15 days, the country will reconsider opening some shops. In general, however, the measures are expected to remain in effect until new daily infections fall from the current 40,000 per day to about 5,000 per day.
“The government didn’t take into account what the first wave was and didn’t learn all its lessons,” Frederic Valletoux, president of the French Hospital Federation, said Wednesday on France Inter radio, France 24 reported.
This is France’s second nation-wide lockdown. The first lockdown was imposed on March 17. Restrictions during the first lockdown lasted until May, BBC reported.
The latest data by Worldometer shows that there have been more than 1.2 million cases of the virus in France and more than 35,000 deaths as a result.
The new restrictions, widely dubbed a “lockdown light,” are set to take effect on Monday and to last until Nov. 30. They were approved during a videoconference meeting between Merkel and Germany’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions.
Merkel said she and the governors would review the situation after two weeks and possibly “adapt” some measures. But she was adamant that the restrictions, which she acknowledged are tough, can’t be put off.
The national disease control center reported on Wednesday morning the latest in a string of daily records for new confirmed cases — 14,964, taking Germany’s total to 449,275. The country of 83 million people also saw 27 more virus-related deaths, raising its death toll in the pandemic to 10,098.
Merkel said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care doubled over the past 10 days.
“We can say that our health system can cope with the challenge today,” Merkel said. “But if the pace of infections continues like this, then we’ll reach the limits of what the health system can manage within weeks.”
Under the restrictions approved Wednesday, theaters, operas, concert halls, cinemas, saunas, gyms, swimming pools and some other sports facilities will be shut for four weeks, along with tattoo, massage and beauty parlors. Brothels and some other businesses also will have to close.
Groups of at most 10 people, from a maximum two households, will be allowed in public.
Merkel called on Germans to refrain from making non-essential journeys, including to see relatives, whether inside or outside the country. She said that hotels will be able to host only people on essential travel, not on tourist trips.
But schools, kindergartens, non-essential shops and hairdressers are to remain open, and church services will still be allowed, unlike during Germany’s shutdown in the first phase of the pandemic in March and April. Restaurants will be able to provide take-out food.
The chancellor has repeatedly urged Germans over the past two weeks to reduce their social contacts in a bid to curb the spread of the virus — so far with little success. In recent months, states also have created a patchwork of increasingly varying rules. The hope is that they will take a uniform approach this time, with the aim of allowing life to return to something more like normal in December.
The government plans to spend up to 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion) to compensate companies hit by the shutdown for revenue they miss out on.
Prosperous Germany took less of an economic hit from its spring lockdown, which was milder than those in several other countries, than some of its European peers.
Officials say Germany, which has coped with the outbreak better than many of its neighboring European countries, is beginning to lose control of the situation, with local health authorities unable to trace contacts of those infected and some hospitals refusing to take in new patients.
“We are prescribing a four-week therapy, so to speak,” Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said. “We hope the dose is right and that it will be successful.”
“As with every therapy, (it should) not be broken off too early,” Soeder added. “It must work. We must not make the mistake we have often seen elsewhere of lapsing too early back into another rhythm.”
The plans have caused anguish in Germany’s hospitality industry, with thousands of venue owners staging a protest ahead of Wednesday’s decision at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate to demand further government financial support.
Merkel noted that there has been a lot of talk about some activities and business areas not generating infections. But she said, “We are now at a point where, on average, we don’t know were 75% of infections across the country come from.”
“One cannot say any more that a certain area doesn’t contribute at all to infections,” Merkel said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered a nationwide mask mandate as a second wave of coronavirus cases put the country’s medical system under a severe strain.
With COVID-19 cases rising at over 15,000 a day, the country’s health agency ordered all Russians to wear masks in crowded public spaces, including public transport, and in closed spaces like taxis and elevators.
The agency also suggested that bars and restaurants close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., Reuters reported.
Protesters turned out by the hundreds in Turin, Milan and other Italian cities and towns Monday to vent their anger, sometimes violently, at the latest pandemic restrictions that force restaurants and cafes to close early and shutter cinemas, gyms and other leisure venues.
In the northern city of Turin, some demonstrators broke off from a peaceful protest, smashing store windows on an elegant shopping street, setting smoke bombs and hurling bottles at police in a main city square where the Piedmont regional government is headquartered, RAI state TV said.