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‘Welcome to the house of horror’: The awful economic data for April is here – CNN

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The numbers: The eurozone composite PMI, which tracks activity in the manufacturing and services sectors, hit 13.5 in April, down from 29.7 in March — easily the worst reading since the survey started in 1998.

It’s a sign of the extent to which Europe’s economy has imploded as shutdowns to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus hit citizens from Berlin to Paris and Amsterdam. The lowest reading during the global financial crisis was 36.2 in February 2009. Readings below 50 indicate that activity is shrinking.

“Welcome to the house of horror,” Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note to clients.

PMI data from the United Kingdom and Japan on Thursday also turned up the worst declines in business output on record. The United States composite PMI reading for the services and manufacturing sectors hit 27.4, down from 40.9 in March. It’s the fastest reduction in output since the data series was first compiled in 2009.

The bad news doesn’t end there. South Korea, which moved quickly to contain coronavirus infections, just suffered its most severe contraction since 2008 as the pandemic weighed on consumer demand and exports, my CNN Business colleague Laura He reports. Trade is expected to remain under pressure as lockdowns around the world continue.

Still more: The US government just reported that another 4.4 million Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits last week. That’s on top of the 22 million people who filed in the four weeks prior.

“Claims have moved past the peak more visibly now, but the cumulative number is still rising significantly,” Morgan Stanley economists said in a note to clients this week. They project that the US unemployment rate will rise above 15% in April.

Unemployment will surpass that level in May, peaking at 16.4%, Morgan Stanley predicted.

Europe’s leaders debate how to fund the region’s recovery

Europe’s leaders are gathering by videoconference on Thursday to tackle a difficult question: how to fund the bloc’s recovery, an initiative some have described as a new version of the post-World War II Marshall Plan.

The challenge is protecting against an uneven aftermath wherein northern states such as Germany and the Netherlands bounce back much faster than southern countries including Italy and Spain, an outcome that could bolster anti-EU sentiment.

Ahead of the meeting, EU leaders seem to agree that they need to go beyond the €500 billion ($539 billion) package that finance ministers endorsed on April 9, according to Berenberg Bank’s Holger Schmieding.

But they still disagree on how to finance a larger package, including whether Europe should issue joint debt or jointly-guaranteed debt, dubbed “corona bonds.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her opposition to such bonds on Thursday, saying they would require all 27 countries to agree to change the EU treaty.

“This would be a long and difficult process and not one that could help in the current situation because right now it is about helping fast,” Merkel told the German parliament.

Leaders aren’t expected to solve all their problems this week, but investors will look for signs of compromise and some progress on the major principles of a large recovery fund.

“It is easier to impair than to repair trust,” Schmieding said in a note to clients. “The longer the dispute rages, the bigger and the more generous would a future package have to be in order to achieve its political purpose.”

Whatever it takes: Meanwhile, the European Central Bank continues to pull out all the stops within its mandate to ease economic pain and financial market distress. The central bank said Wednesday that it will allow banks to post bonds that were recently downgraded to junk status as collateral.

This will help prevent a credit crunch should Italy’s sovereign debt and a growing number of companies face downgrades.

Big Business is bracing for a long-term slowdown

In some parts of the world, government leaders are projecting optimism that citizens will be allowed to return to work before long. But companies are taking a much more cautious stance, warning that they’re digging in for long-term disruptions.

See here: Luxury group Kering (PPRUF) said this week that it doesn’t expect to see a recovery in the United States or Europe before June or July. Unilever CEO Alan Jope said Thursday that the company is “preparing for lasting changes in consumer behavior.”
And here’s AT&T (T) CEO Randall Stephenson on the company’s earnings call: “The range of possible outcomes just for the second quarter of 2020 is unbelievably wide. And then you begin to push that out for what the full year 2020 looks like, and it remains as wide.” (AT&T owns CNN.)
Companies including Chipotle (CMG) and Heineken (HEINY) also continue to withdraw their guidance for sales and earnings in 2020, indicating they’re struggling to forecast a return to normalcy.

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The US will need to spend trillions more as economy takes until 2022 to fully recover: CNBC survey – CNBC

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The economy could take one to two years to rebound to full strength and the Federal Reserve and Congress, having already committed historic sums to fight the coronavirus pandemic, will have to commit trillions more, according to respondents to the CNBC Fed Survey.

With the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet already at an unprecedented $6.45 trillion, the 36 respondents see it rising on average to $9.8 trillion. The additional trillions will be added by the end of the current quarter, the respondents expect. Congress, having already committed about $2.5 trillion, is seen putting in an additional $2 trillion.

“My guess is that the virus itself will largely disappear within a year, but that the structural social and economic impacts will be with us much longer,” John Kattar, chief investment officer at Ardent Asset Management, wrote in response to the survey.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation, said, “The policy response has been appropriate, but policy takes time to work its way into the economy and targeted sectors. … Many small businesses stand at risk.”

Despite the massive relief, respondents still see the unemployment rate rising to 19%, hitting that level in August. It’s expected to decline only gradually, to 11% by December and to 7% by the end of 2021. That would leave it at about double the rate before the crisis.

Second quarter of 2022

“With spiking unemployment and rising business closures … the prospects of a sharp rebound (is) far outweighed by the more realistic prospect of a longer-term structural disruption,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel.

A 33% plurality believes the economy won’t be fully restored until the second quarter of 2022. But 19% believe it will be back by year-end and another 19% believe it can happen even earlier, highlighting a wide range of views about the speed and strength of a recovery.

“During the pandemic, production and consumption have been largely deferred and not lost,” wrote Rob Morgan, director of market strategy at US Energy Advisors. “This leads me to believe the economy will experience a V-shaped recovery beginning in the third quarter 2020.”

On average, respondents see gross domestic product falling by 24% this quarter, followed by a rebound of 4.7% in the third quarter and another strong quarter in the fourth. It won’t be enough to make back the losses in the first half. For the full year, GDP is forecast to decline by 5%.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said a vaccine is essential for the economy to gain traction. “Until then, any recovery will remain something of a slog, characterized by halting growth and high single-digit unemployment. And even then, the economy won’t be in full swing and fully recovered until mid-decade.”

The Fed funds rate is seen remaining at zero for the rest of the year and rise to 1.9% in 2021. The Federal Reserve concludes its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. Answers for CNBC’s Fed Survey from investors and economists were collected Thursday to Saturday. 

The S&P is forecast to finish lower on the year at 2,844 than Monday’s close, and rise to 3,141 next year for a 9% gain by the end of 2021.

 “I think the risk markets are anticipating a faster return to normalized economic conditions than we are likely to see,” says John Ryding, chief economic advisor at Brean Capital LLC.

Among the risks: Respondents place a 61% probability on a second round of contagion in the fall and winter.

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White House reportedly considering another round of stimulus checks – Atlanta Journal Constitution

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As the U.S. economy slowly reopens, Americans across the country are still grappling with job loss, furloughs and economic uncertainty. To combat the continued financial struggles some are facing, a White House official says the administration is “studying carefully” another $1,200 payment to citizens.

White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told the media the administration is determining whether to provide those who qualify another round of stimulus checks, according to NBC News reporter Geoff Bennett. The additional financial support could be included in a phase 4 deal.

 

No word on when the package would be presented the House, but, with the virus still looming, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the media Tuesday that the House will no longer come back next week after speaking to House physician, according to a tweet by Politico congressional reporter Sarah Ferris

 “We made a judgment that we will not come back next week,” Hoyer told reporters.

While the new stimulus checks are being considered, some Americans have not yet received the first round of checks. The IRS began cutting stimulus checks in mid-April. As of this week, about 90 million people have seen the economic bump in their accounts, according to economic news site Market Watch

 The hope is that the checks, which average about $1,200 a piece, will encourage spending and quell the financial pressure to pay essential bills as the COVID-19’s impact has shuttered manufacturing plants, retail stores and limited business hours for dozens of companies.

»MORE: The US is reopening but ‘normal’ is still a ways off

The IRS had distributed about 88.1 million stimulus checks as of April 17 and paid out $157.96 billion, according to statistics released April 24. That’s more than half of the $290 billion put aside for direct payments to individuals in the $2.2 trillion bill called the CARES Act.

Consumer confidence is still low

The Conference Board Tuesday reported that its consumer confidence index tumbled in the month of April, as millions lost their jobs and others feared for the current and future work conditions. 

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its confidence index plunged to a reading of 86.9, down from 118.8 in March. The index is composed of consumers’ assessment of present conditions and expectations about the future. 

 The present conditions index dropped from 166.7, to 76.4, a 90-point drop that was the largest on record. The expectations index, based on the future outlook, improved slightly from 86.8 in March to 93.8 in April.

The numbers in the present conditions index “reflects the sharp contraction in economic activity and surge in unemployment claims,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at the Conference Board.

Kathy Bostjancic, chief U.S. financial economist at Oxford Economics, said the confidence declines were worrisome because “consumers’ downbeat views about future income prospects can restrain consumer spending and the overall economy.”

Consumers drive about 70% of all economic activity in the U.S.

Many economists believe the country has already entered a recession that will be the largest economic disruption since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Goldman Sachs explains why stocks can keep rising even as a record-sized recession beckons – Business Insider

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  • Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, a Monday note from Goldman Sachs said.
  • An analysis of GDP forecasts from the bank found that investors tended to discount the next two years of macroeconomic performance.
  • Thus, metrics that focus only on growth over the next year “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global FX and EM strategy, wrote in the note.
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Markets may continue to look past negative coronavirus news, especially if projections continue to show that the economy is expected to rebound after the pandemic, according to Goldman Sachs.

An analysis by the bank using changes to gross-domestic-product forecasts found that investors typically discounted at least the next two years of macroeconomic performance, a Monday note said.

That means that metrics that focus only on growth over the next year — such as multiples based on 12-month earnings expectations — “will overstate current valuations, given the large rebound expected beyond this year,” Zach Pandl, a cohead of global foreign-exchange and emerging-markets strategy, wrote in the note.

While the coronavirus-induced recession is set to be the deepest contraction in modern history, it’s also likely to be the shortest, Pandl said. Many economists expect that, after a dip in 2020, GDP will rebound in 2021 and 2022. By early April, consensus GDP forecasts incorporated a virus hit, down 4% this year. But forecasts are for 4% growth in 2021 and 3% in 2022 — an unusual pattern, Pandl said.

Read more: Goldman Sachs recommends investors buy ‘quality at a reasonable price.’ Here’s are the firm’s top 10 stock picks that fit the bill.

That means that more disappointing data in the near term may not weigh heavily on markets, as activity is expected to snap back “relatively quickly,” Pandl wrote. “The depth of the downturn matters much less than the duration of the recovery,” he said.

Goldman’s analysis came amid a stock-market recovery from March 23 lows. As US states weigh relaxing strict lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, stocks have slowly gained on optimism that the economy will soon reopen. From March 23 to Monday’s close, the S&P 500 gained about 29%, but it was down about 15% from all-time highs in February.

Still, many economists disagree that any rebound after the coronavirus pandemic will be a quick one. Instead of the sharp V-shaped recovery that Goldman is suggesting, many expect a rebound to take a softer U shape.

Read more: The manager of the best small-cap fund of the past 20 years explains why he’s betting big on a consumer recovery — and shares his top 4 stock picks in the struggling sector

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