European equities climbed last week, despite disappointing data pointing to a slowdown in the economic recovery and escalating coronavirus cases putting ever greater pressure on politicians to veer towards lockdowns. Positivity in Europe was in part explained by companies providing improving guidance as to future earnings, with the drug company Novo Nordisk, jewellery producer Pandora and Zalando, the online clothing retailer all raising their full-year forecasts. Whilst British Land, the UK property firm, reinstated their dividend.
US Equities made further headway this week, with the S&P 500 recording the best weekly gain since early July, while long-term government yields rose to a four-month high. The driver behind the equity-market strength was the anticipation that another stimulus package will eventually be passed despite the shaky negotiations so far. The White House increased its fiscal stimulus offer to $1.8 trillion from $1.6 trillion, which partly bridges the gap but is still short of the $2.2 trillion package the House has already approved
US equities rose 2.9% over the week, whilst US technology stocks increased by 3.1%. European equities were up by 1.8%, with UK equities rising by 2.2%. More domestically focused companies in Europe and the UK both made stronger gains, with European smaller companies having increased by 3.0% and UK mid-caps 3.6%. Japanese stocks gained 2.4%, whilst Australian stocks rose a massive 5.4%. Global emerging markets rose by 3.3%, whilst Latin America stocks were up 4.6%, helped by a rally in the oil price.
US Treasury yields rose over the week (yields move inversely to price), as markets began to price in a Democratic victory, with the 10-year yield touching 0.79%, before settling down at 0.77%. German bund yields, however, remained anchored at minus 0.54%, not helped by the slowing economic recovery in Europe. UK gilts increased to 0.3%, before heading down towards 0.27% as the economic data releases on Friday disappointed markets.
Crude oil rose over the week, with Brent crude rising 9.6%, now trading at $43.0 per barrel and US WTI (West Texas Intermediate) climbed 10.3%, trading at $40.9. The increase in price was triggered by the threat of a strike in Norway that could cut output from Europe’s biggest producer by up to 25%, and Hurricane Delta which led to a 95% cut in supply from the Gulf of Mexico. The copper price, considered by many as a barometer to the health of global growth, rose by 3.1%, now having reversed most of its recent losses.
Disappointing data out of the Eurozone suggested that a ‘V’ shaped recovery has been harder to come by versus other parts of the world. French industrial production for August disappointed, having increased by 1.3% versus forecasts of 1.7%, following the release of the latest PMI (purchasing managers index) data on Monday suggesting continued contraction within the services sector. Similarly, industrial production in Germany for August came in at minus 0.2% versus forecasts of plus 1.5%. However, new factory orders beat expectations, increasing by 4.5% versus forecasts of 2.8%, potentially setting up German manufacturing for a strong fourth quarter. The UK also disappointed on Friday, with GDP growing by 2.1% for the month of August, versus projections of 4.6%.
Whilst last week was the Australian equity market’s worst week since April, this week was the reverse, with the market posting strong gains. Australian markets were particularly supported by government measures to help boost the economy. Aftermarket hours on Tuesday, the government announced personal tax cuts worth AUD $17.8 billion and a further AUD $5.2 billion in new programmes to boost employment. The market reacted positively and consequently over the week all sectors posted positive gains. However, the most notable performers were energy stocks, which rose by approximately 9%.