A fresh trillion in stimulus spending fails to lift the global markets

April 24, 2020, 9:34 AM UTC

This is the web version of the Bull Sheet, Fortune’s no-BS daily newsletter on the markets. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Good morning, and Happy Friday. Stocks and oil are down. After yesterday’s rollercoaster ride, the markets look to end the week on a down note.

Let’s see what’s moving those markets.

Markets update


  • Asia indices are in the red, and falling, with Shanghai leading the way down.
  • The big focus is the apparent failed trial of Gilead Science‘s remdesivir, a hopeful drug candidate to fight Covid-19. Gilead shares tumbled 9% yesterday. That deflated yesterday’s U.S. market rally, and is sinking Asian shares today.


  • Europe opened with a thud, too. The benchmark STOXX Europe 600 Index was down 1.5% in early trade, wiping out yesterday’s gains.
  • The ECB Christine Lagarde warned EU leaders yesterday that the eurozone GDP could shrink by as much as 15% this year unless member states ready the proverbial bazooka.
  • On cue, the EU’s top pols endorsed a 540 billion-euro ($580 billion) plan to support the hardest-hit businesses and economies, but the divisions between the indebted South and their richer northern partners are vast. 
  • Lufthansa shares sank nearly 4% in early trade as Europe’s largest airline warned of a cash crunch and need for state aid.


  • The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq sunk in afternoon trade on the Gilead bombshell, with only the Dow closing in positive territory. All three look set to open lower this morning.
  • President Trump promises to sign today at noon a House-passed coronavirus aid bill. It’s the fourth such rescue package. The quartet of aid adds up to nearly $3 trillion, or 15% of GDP.
  • This latest measure aims to give much needed relief to America’s small businesses who where shut out in round one. Fortune‘s Anne Sraders lays out what you need to know this time around.
  • Last night kicked off the NFL draft. Today, online sports betting operator, Draftkings, begins trading as a public company. The Nasdaq listing will trade under the symbol, DKNG.


  • Gold is up.
  • As is the dollar.
  • Crude is down, as I type, with Brent futures sinking below $25/gallon.

By the Numbers

0.88. If you live in Michigan, you may have seen the price of gasoline is now under a buck at some gas stations around the state. The national price is a bit higher, standing at $1.79—for now. “We’re expecting to see prices to continue to decline,” says AAA, the automobile club. The price-at-the-pump collapse follows the historic crash in oil prices earlier this week. Typically, cheap gas is a boom for consumers, but the tumult in the oil markets—reminder: we hit negative oil on Monday—is having huge ripple effects across the global economy. This will be a jolt to oil-dependent emerging markets from Angola to Venezuela, and very likely become a big political issue in fracking country.

26.5 million. That’s how many workers in the United States have filed for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks. Yesterday’s tally of 4.4 million jobless claims filed was an improvement over previous weeks, but was more or less in line with economists’ estimates. The markets shrugged off the data as a flattening-the-curve success. But we’re still staring at a real unemployment rate of 20.6%, my colleague Lance Lambert calculates.

76.76. After two straight weeks of gains, the S&P 500 has fallen by nearly 76.76 points, or 2.7%, over the last four trading sessions. In a week where oil has plunged to historic depths, the economy has shed another 4.4 million jobs, and corporate earnings go from bad to worse, that’s not a bad performance. But the bulls won’t be happy.


When I joined Fortune full-time last September, one of my first calls was to Adrian Croft. We had worked together at Reuters back in the day. While I toiled on the equities desk in London back then, Adrian was off on glamorous assignments. He was embedded with the U.S. 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 while I was covering the collapse of the Big 5 music labels. I saw some great concerts; he saw history.

A true Fleet Street veteran, Adrian has great stories to tell. (Do yourself a favor and read his farewell note to colleagues when he retired from Reuters last year).

Adrian agreed to come out of retirement and write for us, on topics ranging from the Saudi-Russian price war, to king dollar, to the wolf in cashmere, Bernard Arnault. He also wrote the “Today’s reads” and is the genius behind “Market candy.”

He won’t be happy that I’m making such a fuss about him, but I just wanted to thank him publicly for all his help these past few months. Today is his last day on BS duty.

I’m sure we’ll work together again some day. The gods of journalism wouldn’t want it any other way.

All the best, my friend.


Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you here on Monday.

Correction: yesterday’s Bull Sheet contained a misspelling. It should have read, “Okun’s Law.”

Bernhard Warner

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Today's reads

Why it's better to be unemployed in Europe. Unlike in the United States, where 26.5 million workers have filed jobless claims in five weeks, millions of idled workers in Europe are being kept on company payrolls while governments pick up the tab. The schemes vary widely in generosity, with the Dutch paying up to €9,538 ($10,371) of an employee's gross monthly wages while the Italian government will cover up to €1,129, Fortune details.

Pandemic pay-day. The combined wealth of America’s billionaires, including Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, grew by nearly 10% over a three-week period in March and April during which 22 million Americans lost their jobs, a U.S. thinktank, the Institute for Policy Studies, said. Since the start of the year, eight U.S. billionaires, including Bezos, Musk and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, have seen their fortunes swell by over $1 billion each.

The not so great reopening. Car dealerships are starting to reopen across Germany in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown. Fortune's David Meyer found there’s only one problem: customers. Germany’s near-empty car showrooms highlight the plight businesses face even when they are allowed to reopen—customer confidence around Europe is desperately low as the scale of the economic fallout from the pandemic becomes ever more apparent and amid uncertainty over whether infections have peaked.

Market candy

“I really screwed up.”

That's the admission of Yngve Slyngstad, the outgoing chief executive of Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund. In a memo to staff, he apologized for straying from compliance rules in accepting a flight from the hedge fund manager set to replace him, Bloomberg reports. Central bank authorities are now investigating him for that free flight, and the matter has become a national scandal in Norway.


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