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Trump sees ‘a really great third quarter’ ahead. Investors aren’t so sure

May 20, 2020, 9:00 AM UTC

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Good morning. Yesterday’s “vaccine rally” wore off about an hour before the close. Today, the global markets are mixed in choppy trade.

Let’s see where investors are putting their money.

Markets update


  • The Asian indices are mostly higher, with Japan’s Nikkei up 0.8%.
  • China has stepped up purchases of U.S. farm goods, particularly corn and pork.
  • Don’t necessarily read into this some great thaw in trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. China’s pork production has been decimated by African swine fever for months, fueling record pork imports.
  • The Chinese unicorn Luckin Coffee is being delisted from the Nasdaq following its latest accounting scandal. The fallout “could become the impetus Washington needs to act on its long-time threat to impose tougher regulations against Chinese stocks,” Fortune‘s Eamon Barret reports.


  • European bourses opened lower. Germany’s Dax was off 0.4%, and the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 was down by a similar decline.
  • Rocked by low oil prices and coronavirus, Russia’s GDP crashed in April. The government doesn’t provide an official figure, but others crunched the numbers and calculated output fell by 28%.
  • The 2020 outlook doesn’t look much better in Britain. The U.K’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak warned of “a severe recession, the likes of which we haven’t seen.” How bad? You have to go back to 1706 for such a dreary outlook.


  • The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures have been steadily climbing throughout the morning. That’s after yesterday’s late-session tumble.
  • Questions hovering over the results of Moderna‘s COVID-19 vaccine trials sent shares in the biotech firm bombing 10% lower yesterday (that’s one explanation; another is it’s selling shares at a furious clip), taking the broader market with it.
  • Ignoring warnings from Fed chairman Jerome Powell, President Trump yesterday said he expects “a really great third quarter.”
  • UBS economist Paul Donovan, for one, isn’t buying it. “The level of GDP will not be great in the third quarter. Living standards will be below those of 2019. Unemployment will be at least double pre-crisis levels, and businesses will have failed. The GDP level is unlikely to recover before late 2021,” he said in a note to investors this morning.


  • Gold is up, strongly.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • The oil rally is on pause. WTI is down nearly 1%.

Bear market bounce?

April was one for the ages with the S&P 500 recording its best month since 1987. So far in May, it’s holding onto those gains. Despite yesterday’s tumble, the benchmark index has still added 0.3% since the April 30 close.

But clouds are gathering on the horizon, market observers note. “Volatility is picking up,” Matt Forester, chief investment officer of BNY Mellon’s Lockwood Advisors tells Bloomberg. “More volatility than what we’ve seen over the past couple months is probably in order for the market.”

Yesterday, BofA Global put out its latest fund manager survey, and the outlook isn’t great. The sentiment is decidedly bearish, even as we begin to reopen the global economy. Today’s chart bears this out.

A full three-quarters of respondent (top bar) said they anticipate the economy is heading for a more protracted U-shaped or, worse, the volatile W-shaped recovery. Just 10% (bottom bar) see the best-case V-shaped recovery.

As for the equities market, 68% see this current torrid run as a bear market rally; just 25% see us entering a bull market.

(A note on the chart above: I put all four data points together into one chart. The four elements are not supposed to add up to 100%.)

As always, there’s a lot in this report, so I will do a two-parter. Tomorrow I will break out where the survey panel sees headwinds for companies as they ramp up business operations, post-pandemic.


That’s it for me. Have a nice day everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow.

Bernhard Warner

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Market candy

14.2 trillion

It's Fortune 500 week, which went live on the site Monday. 

This year marks the 66th running of the list. In total, Fortune 500 companies represent two-thirds of the U.S. GDP with $14.2 trillion (up 4%) in revenues, $1.2 trillion (up 8%) in profits, $20.4 trillion (down 10%) in market value, and they employ 29.2 million people worldwide.