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Dollar up, stocks down as curfews, COVID and underwhelming corporate results spook investors

October 15, 2020, 9:35 AM UTC

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Good morning. Weak bank earnings and a dimming outlook for stimulus spending sent shares tumbling on Wednesday. That risk-off mood is hanging over the markets again today. Europe is falling even harder as COVID numbers spike again, and tough curfew measures come into place. On cue, the dollar, that classic safe haven, is up.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes are in the red with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng off 1.2% in afternoon trading.
  • IPO-bound Ant Group is the latest Chinese tech company in the sights of the Trump Administration. Reuters reports the U.S. State Department has submitted a proposal to add the payments company to a trade blacklist.
  • In Korean boy band news, Big Hit Entertainment, the music label for K-pop group BTS, had a rousing stock market debut in Seoul today. Not familiar with BTS or K-pop? Here’s Fortune‘s Grady McGregor on all you need to know about the phenomenon.


  • The European bourses fell at the open, and kept falling. The Stoxx Europe 600 was down 2.4% two hours into the trading session.
  • Europe’s COVID numbers hit a record in the past 24 hours, forcing France to impose strict 9 p.m. curfews across nine cities, including the City of Light, Paris. Tighter restrictions in London are imminent as well.
  • Hold your nose. The latest on post-Brexit trade talks took a surprising turn with Germany pressing the French to back down on a key sticking point in the negotiations with its cross-Channel neighbor: fish.


  • U.S. futures point to another weak open. They’ve been sliding all morning. The Dow and S&P fell for a second straight day on Wednesday, this time with tech and bank stocks leading the fall.
  • Shares of Wells Fargo and Bank of America fell more than 5% after reporting big earnings drops. The weak numbers by the bellwether banks indicates the economic recovery is still on shaky ground.
  • The other worrying news comes from Washington. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged yesterday that the odds of reaching an imminent stimulus package are just about zero. He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meet again today, but the two sides are still a good $300 billion apart in their numbers.


  • Gold is down, plunging below $1,900/ounce.
  • The dollar is up, climbing as equities fall.
  • Crude is down, with Brent trading above $42/barrel.



On politics and portfolios

This one comes courtesy of Fortune columnist Ben Carlson who breaks down the markets performance by president.

inflation with a little i

When a few ticks over 1% counts as high(ish).

Don’t tell anyone looking to buy a new set of wheels that inflation is dead. “Used car and truck prices surged by 6.7% m/m in September, reflecting strong demand that is outpacing supply,” notes Berenberg chief economist Mickey Levy.

Central banks with a big c

When Abenomics goes global.

Il grande zero

I’m old enough to remember when the bond markets helped knock Silvio Berlusconi out of power, not the Communists as he’d been warning about for years. This week, the Italian Treasury sold zero-coupon bonds. It was over-subscribed. You can thank the European Central Bank’s appetite for sovereign debt for that.


Bernhard Warner

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Today's read

The polls are all wrong. Since politics and Wall Street are largely intertwined these days, I thought I'd share this fine piece by Fortune's Jeremy Kahn.The race for the White House is a lot closer than the polls suggest. It's a near dead heat, says this "sentiment analysis" A.I. tool that successfully predicted the right outcome of the 2016 Brexit vote. 

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Market candy


That's the "real" unemployment rate, which is a good bit higher than the official unemployment rate of 7.9% cited by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Economists always squabble over how precisely to measure the jobless rate. No matter how you look at it, the labor market is hurting.