US financial markets soar despite spread of coronavirus outbreak

Investors bet on stimulus by central banks to help counter the impact of the coronavirus on economic growth.

Markets come back
Stocks rally after last week's rout on central bank policy hopes [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

Wall Street surged on Monday as investors hunted for bargains following reassurances by central banks that they stood ready to counter the economic impact from the coronavirus following last week’s steep sell-off.

Apple bounced back from a two-year low to jump 6.3 percent and lifted the S&P 500 more than any other company.

The S&P 500 was on track for its best one-day gain in over a year. That followed the United States financial markets‘ worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, sinking into correction territory on Thursday due to fears of a recession resulting from the epidemic.

Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Monday that Japan’s central bank would take necessary steps to stabilise financial markets. That followed a similar move by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell last Friday.

“We can shrug off an economic downturn, but if it starts to spill into companies’ capacity to pay their debts, then that creates deeper problems. But it seems to me like the central banks are linking arms to find a way to insulate the credit markets from economic uncertainty,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago.

Traders see a 100 percent chance of a 50 basis point rate cut at the Fed’s March meeting, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,296.81 points, or 5.1 percent, to 26,706.17. The S&P 500 gained 136.3 points, or 4.61 percent, to 3,090.52, and the Nasdaq Composite added 384.80 points, or 4.49 percent, to 8,952.17.

“The sell-off was so fierce last week that you do have some buy-the-dip investors emerging,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.

The Institute for Supply Management said domestic manufacturing activity barely expanded last month due to supply issues stemming from the virus outbreak.

“The Fed can cut rates all it wants, that is not going to put a person in a factory producing a product if that person is quarantined,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

Source: Reuters