Trump exams COVID-19 optimistic; world shares fall

London/Singapore/Tokyo, October 2

US stock futures and European stocks fell on Friday after President Donald Trump said he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Futures on the S&P 500 fell as much as 2% immediately after the news, while barometers of risk appetite, such as the Australian dollar and Treasury yields, dipped.

European stocks also fell sharply.

Here are analysts’ comments:

Derek Halpenny, head of Research, Global Markets at MUFG

“What might this news on President Trump mean? Some wires are reporting this as a risk-off event as it raises the prospect of a Biden victory and a Democrat victory is equity market negative. We are not convinced on that line of reasoning.”

“Firstly, Trump remains very competitive in key swing states … and catching COVID is unlikely to alter his support much.

Indeed, if he quickly recovers it will play into his line of argument over getting the economy open being much more important.”

Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS global wealth management

“News that US President Trump has tested positive for COVID-19 must be worrying at a personal level, as it would be for anyone.

Markets (being impersonal) will focus on whether this affects the election outcome or public health policy.” “The future presidential debates may not happen; these were not seen as especially significant. Those opposed to mask-wearing may revise their views, and the president’s experience may impact U.S. public health policy.”

Chris Bailey, Raymond James European Strategist

“Naturally raises concerns about the impact on the upcoming election, running of the country and related. This followed the U.S. reporting its biggest jump in new cases in five days, including nearly 20 states reporting single day increases of more than 1,000 infections.”

Chris Weston, head of Research, Pepperstone, Melbourne

“The President of the United States has got a disease which kills people. People are de-risking because of that.” “The next point is how far has this has gone in (to the administration), which has big implications for the elections.

The worst case scenario is we could see the election pushed back a bit.

“But it really depends on what we are talking about. Are we talking about a situation where he gets it and doesn’t turn up to debates? Or he gets it and uses it to say: ‘I’ve survived this, I’m a fighter,’ – or he passes away…we’ve got a lot of questions and not a lot of answers immediately available.”

Julian Wee, Investment Strategist, Credit Suisse, Singapore

“The initial market reaction has been negative but I’m not sure that well prove enduring.

“Ultimately, once the initial kneejerk reaction has passed, the market will probably focus on what it might mean for the elections. And so far, the narrative has been turning more positive over the last week or so. Our official base case is for a Democratic sweep, pretty much in line with latest polling.”

Khoon Goh, head of Asia Research, Anz, Singapore

“At this stage, it is too early to tell yet how this may affect the election outcome. Markets have sold off in a knee jerk reaction to the news, which is understandable.” “The dollar was bought initially, but has since sold off. I imagine so long as it appears both the President and the First Lady are in reasonable condition, these market moves will unwind.”

Naoya Oshikubo, Senior Economist, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management, Tokyo

“Trump has been trailing behind Biden and he has clearly failed to narrow the gap after the first debate, which is the most important of the three debates. I suspect markets will lean towards the view that Biden will likely win the election.

“What I am worried is that he will become even more aggressive against China after he caught the virus himself for I got the impression that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has become more anti-China after he had COVID-19.

“For the time being it will be difficult for financial markets to be on risk-on mood.

Ayako sera, market strategist, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, Tokyo

“We are seeing typical risk-off trades now, but as far as we know Trump is not gravely ill. It is possible that by the time we reach New York trading that markets will have calmed down.

“If Trump’s symptoms are mild and he stages a quick recovery, his support could increase, which would be similar to what happened with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“However, this does damage Trump’s ability to campaign and time is running out before the election.

“Whether it’s Trump or Biden, the biggest problem is uncertainty. As long as we’re uncertain about who will win the election, it is difficult for markets to truly settle.”  Reuters

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