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Major indices jump 9% in monster rally—but traders expect more ‘uneasiness’ next week

March 13, 2020, 9:36 PM UTC

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What did you expect on Friday the 13th?

With an opening jump, midday drop, and then late rally fueled in part by Trump’s covid-19 emergency declaration, it was another action-filled day on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 was up 230.38 (9.3%). The Dow jumped by 1,985.00 (9.4%) while the Nasdaq climbed 672.43 (9.3%). The Russell 2000, which has taken a beating during the slump, saw an 86.14 (7.7%) lift. Trump’s announcement of buying oil to fill the national reserves sent West Texas Intermediate crude up more than 7%.

Donald Trump’s expected declaration of a national emergency, including up to $50 billion to support states and local efforts to address covid-19, helped push already rising markets into a big end-of-day jump.

“The market was up…before he even started talking,” said Mark Charnet, founder and CEO of American Prosperity Group. “I think the markets, the pundits, the advisors, the traders, the brokers [had] realized this is not a science fiction movie come to life.”

Plus, “the market likes $50 billion thrown at companies,” said Charnet. Still, even with what he sees as a basically strong economy, Charnet thinks next week will likely be “more of the same uneasiness up and down.”

“It’s been a week, even a month, of superlatives,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and multi-asset portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. Fastest 10% correction ever. Fastest bear market from peak ever. And all that interspersed with upward drives as investors and traders face ongoing uncertainty.

Max Gokhman, head of asset allocation at Pacific Life Fund Advisors noted that much of the week was defined by sheer confusion. “On Monday, after the markets were closed, the president comes on and promises a lot of things,” Gokhman said. “Then we start getting headlines like almost all the things he promised weren’t going to happen or didn’t get discussed with other people.”

For example, health insurance companies had to explain that they weren’t offering free covid-19 treatment but only testing at no charge.

“The President keeps downplaying the severity of the situation,” noted Gokhman.

There were also big questions Trump didn’t address. “For the markets to calm, they would want to see extended pay leave, especially for hourly workers, so companies wouldn’t have to let them go and [the workers are] incentivized to stay home if they’re sick,” Goodwin said. She thought liquidity aid to small companies “already experiencing a cash crunch because of this crisis” would be necessary. “They still have to pay rent and payroll,” Goodwin said. “They need help to get through the cash crunch through the next six to eight months.”

“This expansion has been borne on the back of the U.S. consumer,” Gokhman said. If businesses close and people aren’t working, the lack of spending could undermine the U.S. economy, where 78% of GDP is ultimately attributed to consumer spending. “We wouldn’t be talking about [the possibility of] a two-quarter recession but a longer-term contraction,” Gokhman said.

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