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Global stocks soar ahead of a jobs report that could be historically grim

June 5, 2020, 8:58 AM UTC

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Happy Friday, everyone. U.S. jobs numbers come out in a few hours. They will be brutal. But investors are looking beyond that, to stimulus measures and recovery data, sending global stocks higher.

Let’s see where they’re putting their money.

Markets update


  • The major indices are all in the green. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up about 1.6% in afternoon trade.
  • Remember how the phase 1 China-U.S. trade deal was going to help out the American farmer? That promised $36.5 billion election-year boost is shriveling on the vine… UBS chief economist Paul Donovan, however, downplays the weak start, writing in a morning note to investors: “the reality is that both sides do not want to threaten the trade deal at the moment.”
  • “This is going to be a big year for IPOs,” predicts Charles Li. The CEO of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing believes the Trump Administration’s crackdown on U.S.-listed Chinese firms will lead to an explosion in new issuance by “returnees,” among others.


  • The European bourses climbed out of the gates, recouping some of yesterday’s losses. Milan and Frankfurt led the way with the DAX up 2% two hours into the session, looking to close out a huge week on a high note.
  • Investors are pleased with yesterday’s ECB decision to boost the PEPP asset-buying program by a surprise €600 billion, sending the euro and Italian bonds higher. (I’m going to hear about it from my father-in-law this weekend. Credetemi. Believe me.)
  • Meanwhile, there’s been little to no progress in the latest post-Brexit trade deal talks. Still, the pound sterling and FTSE are climbing on Friday.


  • The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures are all pointing solidly higher. Of the trio, only the bluechip Dow closed in the green yesterday.
  • All eyes will be on the May jobs report, due out before the opening bell. The consensus is that the unemployment rate will have soared to anywhere between 16% and 22.5%. Not much of a consensus.
  • We keep returning to this question: why is Mr. Market ignoring a world in turmoil? The Journal‘s James Mackintosh breaks it down, noting it helps when the world’s biggest economies have committed to bailout packages that amount to 11% of their collective GDPs.


  • Gold is down
  • The dollar too continues to fall.
  • Crude is rebounding today despite OPEC discord over supply cuts. Brent is up nearly 2%, climbing above $40/gallon.

By the Numbers

42.6 million. As noted above, the May jobs report comes out in a few hours. The numbers will be bad, but won’t hardly tell the full picture. Yesterday’s report on jobless claims is a far more accurate indicator of the carnage in the labor markets, showing 42.6 million workers in the United States have now filed for unemployment benefits over the past 11 weeks. Yesterday’s tally of 1.9 million jobless claims was roughly 200,000 lower than the prior week, again more or less in line with analysts’ consensus. The nearly 43 million unemployed Americans means that just about one-quarter of eligible American workers are out of a job. And this does not include the millions of Americans on reduced-hours and reduced-pay. The jobs-destruction toll gets more troublesome every week despite the flattening curve:

9,741.97. Why dwell on bad news? Let’s go straight to the good stuff. Yesterday morning, roughly 90 minutes after the latest jobless claims numbers came out, the Nasdaq 100 touched a record high. It didn’t stay there; it closed a good 110 points off that high following choppy afternoon trade. Still, that brief milestone is well worth noting. The Nasdaq 100 is up nearly 39% since its March low, fueled by the Big 5—Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google’s Alphabet. As Fortune has reported, the dichotomy between “winners” and “losers” has become even more apparent in this market. “Where there’s quite a bit of uncertainty, investors almost always…are on the hunt for growth and certainty—that’s the magic combination,” Wells Fargo Investment Institute’s senior global market strategist Sameer Samana recently told Fortune. In the meantime, let’s all marvel at this lovely “V.”

7.21 trillion. But not a penny more. The Fed balance sheet as of June 3 hit $7.21 trillion. What’s on the Fed’s shopping list every week? U.S. Treasurys, commercial paper, PPP assets, to name a few. The Fed balance sheet has been growing at a clip of about $50 billion per week. Why do we care? The central bank is dead-set on keeping the taps flowing so as to keep the credit markets running smoothly, which, in turn, is providing rocket fuel to the equities markets. A lot of markets observers are pointing to the rise in stocks and the Fed’s spending spree trending in line. The brilliant chaps at Market Ear point out:


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

Oh, and about next week: I’m taking Bull Sheet on the road come Monday. The Ministry of Get-out-of-town says it’s okay.

Bernhard Warner

A note from my Fortune colleagues on a timely new initiative:

Many companies are speaking out against racial injustices right now. But how do they fare in their own workplaces? Black employees in the corporate world, we want to hear from you: Please submit your anonymous thoughts and anecdotes here.

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Today's reads

First in, first out? China was the first to lock down, the first to emerge from such restrictions, and it could be the first to recover to pre-pandemic levels. According to BlackRock analysts, the first meaningful green shoots of growth could happen by year-end. The No. 2 economy getting back on track is an important step for the global recovery.

Accounts un-payable. Businesses are still having problems getting paid, and that's having a ripple effect as they, in turn, can't pay their creditors. Fortune's Jeremy Kahn breaks it down by the numbers. If you know anybody who works in accounts payable, you should share with them this story.

Some of these stories require a subscription to access. There is a discount offer for our loyal readers if you use this link to sign up. Thank you for supporting our journalism.

Market candy

Quote of the day

"Investors fleeing emerging markets see the S&P 500 Index as a safe haven, just as investors fled to the perceived safety of U.S. Treasury bonds during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. This appears to reflect investors’ hopes that U.S. stocks won’t correct downward much, which could be a misplaced bet."

That's Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. She was one of six markets experts who took on the question from Foreign Policy: "Why are stocks soaring in the middle of a pandemic?"

... It's similar to the question I asked in yesterday's Bull Sheet. I got some great responses. I will share them next week.