October 29, 2020

FINANCIAL MARKETS

  •  The recovery in global risk assets that began in the second quarter continued through July and August supported by aggressive policy actions and increasing optimism as many pandemic related restrictions were eased and positive news was announced on COVID‐19 vaccine trials and treatments. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices hit multiple new record highs boosted primarily by the strong performance of information technology, consumer discretionary, materials, and industrial sector stocks. Despite relatively stable oil prices, energy stocks
    declined sharply.
  • U.S. Treasury bond yields were little changed as the Federal Reserve (Fed) reiterated that it intends to keep its federal funds rate near 0% through 2022. Non‐government bond prices rose supported by the Fed’s bond‐buying programs. Borrowers issued record amounts of debt at historical low rates.
  • Oil prices traded in a relatively tight range rising from $39 per barrel on June 30 to just over $43 in August on the improving economic outlook before weakening in September to end the quarter at $39.

OVERVIEW OF THE ECONOMY

  • Much of the economic data released came in stronger than expected with many sectors showing a V shaped recovery. Retail sales, home sales, and new jobs are examples. Manufacturing has rebounded globally led by the U.S., China, and Germany. Business and consumer confidence has improved. However, the service side of economies continues to struggle to recover still limited by government restrictions and cautious consumers.

NOTABLE EVENTS

  • In attempts to limit the economic damage from the pandemic, governments and central banks globally enacted numerous stimulus measures. An exception was the U.S., with Congress failing to pass a phase 5 relief bill.