Markets Neutral to Kick Off New Week & Month

Mark Vickery

Monday, June 1, 2020

Today kicks off a new month of trading following a very solid comeback from the harsh drop-off we saw in March. Historic highs reached in February this year are now, somewhat implausibly, already within view. And with the “shelter in place” initiatives being lifted around the country and some semblance of economic activity coming back to bring about a certain sense of “normalcy,” plus treatment and vaccine development and warmer weather climes hopefully bringing an end to the pandemic, it becomes easier to see how bullish sentiment can take hold of our recent market activity.

…And that’s about it for the good news.

“Shelter in place” is now giving way to regional curfews being mandated in areas around the country, as protests regarding law enforcement tactics in Minneapolis and elsewhere moved from impassioned and peaceful to wanton and violent over this past weekend. A disparity between those Americans who feel a responsibility to keep from spreading the COVID-19 virus and those flaunting their beliefs to the contrary add to our national stress levels, and may generate a second wave of the disease our government experts have been warning about. And that’s just considering issues here at home.

There is still a renewed level of stress between the relationship of the U.S. and China, in terms of trade and economic recovery overall. Beijing and Washington DC have rekindled verbal hostilities in the past few weeks, which is an unfortunate development considering the levels of positive sentiment reached during the signing of the Phase One trade deal in January, which helped lead markets to the aforesaid all-time highs a month later.

Mainland China itself has yet to resolve its hostilities with Hong Kong, which is part of China but still with its own trade policies and law enforcement. Hong Kong protestors have objected strongly for months about what they see as Beijing usurping on Hong Kong’s rights and profits. So, much like what we see in the U.S. today, there are higher than normal stress levels in China, both in its internal and external relationships.

A new report has been released this morning from Gilead GILD, specifically its phase 3 study of COVID-19 treatment candidate remdesivir for patients moderate affected by the disease. Results were positive from one angle but somewhat inconclusive from another: its 5-day treatment regiment showed a 65% improvement in medical conditions after 11 days, while after 10 days the company said the drug treatment “tended toward” positive significance. So there is still hope for remdesivir becoming an arrow in the quiver in the battle against the coronavirus, though it may come up short of being a silver bullet.

After the market opens today, both PMI and ISM Manufacturing reports are expected. On the PMI side, a 39.8 read for May was a slight improvement from the 36.1 posted in April, which was the lowest-ever monthly headline since this survey came into existence eight years ago. The ISM report in April dropped to 41.5 from 49.1 in March, which was the lowest drop since the Great Recession, which posted the lowest read ever when ISM Manufacturing dipped below 35 back in early 2009.

All this said, pre-market indexes are hovering right around a zero-balance a half hour before the opening bell. Considering the myriad pressing issues affecting the economy both nationally and globally these days, this remains a reflection of a robust positivity market participants continue to carry forward.

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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