U.S. equities logged their best weekly gain since early April as investors reacted to the increased possibility of a divided government, including a potential Biden win and continued Republican control in the Senate. However, the market began to price in the scenario of a split government that potentially reduces the likelihood of immediate tax hikes and increased regulations, while not removing the potential for an agreement on some form of fiscal-aid package.
Shares in Europe rallied in sympathy with U.S. equities while also receiving a lift from the generally strong quarterly earnings reported by European corporations and the additional stimulus measures announced in the UK. In local currency terms, the pan-European STOXX Europe 600 Index ended the week 7.02% higher, while Germany’s DAX Index rallied 7.99%, France’s CAC 40 gained 7.98%, and Italy’s FTSE MIB climbed 9.69%. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index advanced 5.97%.
Economic news largely took a back seat over the week, however, Purchasing Managers Indices, considered lead indicators as to the outlook for companies, were unambiguously positive. The US Manufacturing PMI came in at 53.4, slightly higher than forecast, with any number above 50 indicating expansion. Whilst the US Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index came in at 59.3, smashing expectations, with the new orders subcomponent coming in at 67.9 versus forecasts of 62.
Even in Europe, the Markit Manufacturing PMI came in at 54.8, ahead of forecasts, although the service sector PMI remained below 50, indicating contraction, at 46.9. In the UK, the manufacturing PMI came in at 53.7 and 51.4 for the service sector. This was mirrored in China, with the Caixin composite PMI for both manufacturing and service sector companies coming in at 55.7, higher than the previous month.
On Thursday, faced with the beginning of a second lockdown, the Bank of England announced a massive additional £150 billion quantitative easing program. This was followed up shortly after by an announcement from the UK’s Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, that the government’s furlough scheme would be extended until March of next year.
Despite the US election yet to have been decided, with the possibility that the result gets dragged through the courts, in the coming weeks there may be other news that begins to dominate investors thinking. The announcement of Covid19 vaccine trials should start to come through, with high hopes for a credible breakthrough, which will inevitably take centre stage for markets.
Important economic data being released this upcoming week include the Unemployment Rate, the Fed’s upper bound key interest rate, and various PMI series.
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