Equities tumble ahead of election
- November 2, 2020
Amid uncertainty around the election and an increase in daily COVID-19 cases, the three major equity indices all fell considerably this past week. The Dow Jones took the biggest hit, dropping 6.47%, while the S&P 500 dropped 5.64% and the Nasdaq dropped 5.51%.
In other major U.S. economic news, Q3 GDP increased by an annualized 33.1%. The record quarterly growth followed a record plunge in Q2, in which GDP fell 31.4%. Overall, U.S. GDP is down 8.69% over the last two quarters.
GDP growth helps interest rates rebound
Treasury yields rose on Thursday following the Q3 GDP growth announcement. Friday saw weekly highs for both the 10- and 30-year treasury notes after most of the week saw decreasing yields due to pessimism around stalled fiscal stimulus negotiations, as well as increasing COVID-19 cases. The 10-year swap rate followed a similar path, falling for most of the week, but increasing on Thursday and Friday after the positive GDP news. Over the last three months, swap rates have increased and are now approaching early-to-mid-April levels.
Labor market trending upward
Despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, initial jobless claims for the week ending October 24 came in at 751,000, beating expectations of 778,000. The 751,000 initial jobless claims were the lowest total since the week of March 14, when claims came in at 282,000. Initial jobless claims fell for the second straight week and have been below 800,000 in three of the last four weeks. October nonfarm payroll numbers will be released on November 6.
U.S. Dollar strengthens
The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) reached its highest point since early October. Backed by risk-off sentiment and better-than-expected U.S. GDP numbers, investors rushed to the “safe haven” U.S. Dollar. With the COVID-19 pandemic currently triggering national lockdowns in Europe, the U.S. Dollar could potentially strengthen further in the coming weeks. Conflicting tensions between recent strengthening and the weakening trend since March continue to illustrate the volatility in the market as well as the directional uncertainty that is driving many companies to examine the effectiveness of operational hedging programs.
(Related insight: Watch the on-demand webinar, “Conducting a Holistic Diagnosis of Your FX Hedging Program.")
Related Insight: “How to increase FX hedging while maintain hedge accounting” https://www.chathamfinancial.com/insights/how-to-increase-fx-hedging-capacity-while-maintaining-hedge-accounting
Crude Oil prices fall
For most of October, WTI Crude Oil had been range-bound between $39 and $41 per barrel. However, over the past week, WTI has fallen as low as $36.17 per barrel, its lowest total since late May. Precious metals decreased across the board throughout the week, consistent with an inverse correlation to a strengthening dollar.
While COVID-19 cases continue to increase in both the United States and Europe, all eyes will be on the Presidential election on November 3. Investors will be keeping a close eye on the results and the implications to market volatility and fiscal stimulus activity.
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