Daily Briefing: Between stimulus euphoria and virus dejection – Reuters

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A glum end to another difficult week. We’ve seen wild swings in major equity indexes, U.S. Treasury yields collapsing below 1% and investors torn between euphoria over monetary and fiscal stimulus measures on one hand and fears over the coronavirus on the other.
Fear has the upper hand today, with equities falling and the dollar weakening against the yen and the euro.
World stocks are actually up almost 2% so far this week, buoyed by the Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut on Tuesday and rebounding from last week’s $6 trillion selloff. But those weekly gains could get wiped out by the end of the day after steep declines in Asia.
Japanese stocks fell nearly 3% to a six- month low; Hong Kong and South Korea nearly matched that decline. European markets followed; the London, Paris, Milan and Frankfurt exchanges all dropped 1.5% to 2% in early trade. U.S. futures point to a 1% fall when Wall Street opens.
Coronavirus also overshadows much of the data coming out — U.S. non-farm payroll numbers are expected to show a 175,000 increase in jobs after a 225,000 rise in January.
In corporate news, Airbus shares tumbled 3% as it got zero orders in February. EssilorLuxottica also fell 3% at open after the company said it expects its first-half revenues to be slower.
Infineon fell 0.3% after Bloomberg reported that Washington recommended Trump block the German chipmaker’s proposed $10 billion deal to buy Cypress Semiconductor. AstraZeneca fell 0.3% after a combination treatment for a form of bladder cancer failed to meet its main goal.
On fixed-income markets, yields of safe-haven debt continue to tumble, with U.S. Treasuries seeing the biggest shakeout. U.S. 10-year yields are down 10 bps, below 1%.
Two-year U.S. Treasury yields have dropped almost 85 bps in the past two weeks – their biggest two-week drop since 1987. Ten-year UST yields are headed for their biggest two-week drop since the financial crisis in 2008.
Germany’s benchmark 10-year Bund yield is within striking distance of record lows reached six months ago.
Markets are pricing in further rate cuts after the Fed’s 50 bps emergency move Tuesday. Another 40 bps of cuts is priced for March, with about a 60% chance of a more aggressive 50 bps cut.
For the ECB, the market expects a 10 bps rate cut at next Thursday’s meeting and a total of two rates cuts by year-end.
The slide in U.S. Treasury yields further eroded the dollar’s interest rate advantage. The euro rose to a near-three-year high against the U.S. currency, which sank to its lowest in more than five months against the yen, which was also benefiting from some safe-haven flows.
Emerging-market stocks slipped for the first time in five trading sessions, falling 1.8% on Friday. Chinese stocks slipped 1.6% but still managed their best week in a year as investors welcomed Beijing’s attempts to control the virus.
Emerging-market currencies were generally weaker, but the dollar’s weakness put China’s yuan on track for a second straight weekly gain. The South Korean won was set for its best week since 2017, thanks also to a fiscal stimulus package
In Turkey, a ceasefire deal for Syria’s Idlib region went into effect but hasn’t so far helped the lira.
Lebanon’s government meets on Saturday to take a decision on its $1.2 billion Eurobond maturing March 9. The state prosecutor suspended an order freezing assets of 20 banks, warning it would plunge the country’s financial sector into chaos.
After a sweeping government reshuffle this week, Ukraine’s new prime minister, Denys Shmygal, said the government would continue “constructive” work with the International Monetary Fund.
Argentina’s central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate to 38% from 40% on Thursday, the eighth cut since the middle of December.
— A look at the day ahead from Karin Strohecker, chief correspondent, emerging markets. The views expressed are her own —
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