Oil rebounds, Gold is up, and a $500 billion US aid package is on the way

By Meagan Evans. Published at Apr 24, 2020, in Features

Markets were mixed on Thursday as investors weighed a rebound in oil prices and prospects for further government stimulus against stark economic data showing the toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the US, the S&P 500 started out strong only to close slightly lower, down 0.05% at 2797.8, the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.01% to 8494.75, while the Dow Jones gained 0.17% to end the day at 23,515.26.

Weighing on the market was news that Gilead Science has terminated a Chinese study after results showed that its remdesivir did not improve COVID-19 patients' condition or reduce the pathogen's presence in the bloodstream.

The market was encouraged a week ago by a report that COVID-19 patients had responded positively to remdesivir in a separate study.

Another 4.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits in the week to 18 April, bringing the total US jobless claims figure to more than 26 million since the pandemic began. This translates roughly to a 15% unemployment rate.

After the market close, US Congress delivered a nearly $US500 billion aid package to support small businesses and hospitals that have struggled amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The manufacturing and service sectors could also use some help, with the flash service PMI falling to record lows and the manufacturing PMI dropping to its lowest level in 11 years as business activity has slumped due to the lockdowns to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

US coronavirus deaths topped 49,000 on Thursday as the number of lives lost in April rises by an average of 2,000 a day, according to a Reuters tally. At that rate, US deaths will reach 50,000 no later than Friday.

The total number of US cases was approaching 860,000 with many states yet to report on Thursday.

This compares with 75 deaths and close to 7,000 cases in Australia, while the global toll has reached nearly 189,000 deaths and 2.7 million cases.

European markets showed some strength with the FTSE 100 gaining 55.98 points to close up 0.97% at 5826 points.

The DAX was up 0.95% to 10,513 points, while the CAC 40 gained 0.89% pushing it to a close of 4451.

Spot gold added 1.0% to $1,730.50 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.73% to $1,733.30 an ounce as supplies tighten amid rising concerns over the longer-term economic impact of the pandemic.

Oil prices were higher with Brent crude gaining 8.4% to $US22.09 per barrel and U.S. Oil gained 27.2% to $US17.53 per barrel.

Iron ore was weaker, down 0.7% to $US84.46 per tonne.

The local market yesterday

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) ended the day yesterday down 4.1 points, or 0.1%, to 5217.1. The index had been up more than 1% earlier in the day before healthcare and bank stocks dragged on the index, locking in the fourth day of losses.

All four of the big banks ended the day lower, while in healthcare CSL lost 2% to $306.67, Cochlear slid by 1.4% to $179.34 and Ramsay Healthcare slumped 5.9% after a capital raising.

The ASX SPI200 suggests the market will open higher 12 points this morning at 5206.

Yesterday marked a month since the local market reached its lowest level since 2012 of 4546 on March 23 and there is speculation that it could head back towards those levels.


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