Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day
A trader talks on the phone while another views a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg) 

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

(Bloomberg) --

The global death toll from the coronavirus now exceeds that of the SARS outbreak. China pledges at least $10 billion to combat the outbreak. And stocks in Asia are set to take a breather after a rally that has propelled global equities to all-time highs. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

The coronavirus has killed more than 900 people, exceeding the global death toll from the SARS outbreak almost two decades ago. China is spending at least $10 billion to control the coronavirus outbreak and reaching out for medical supplies as the first wave of international experts heads to the disease’s epicenter. A cruise ship in Japan with 70 victims has the most infections outside China. Scientists modeling the virus in Wuhan predict infections may peak this month. Meanwhile, coronavirus cases traced to a business meeting in Singapore have reached three European countries after causing infections in Asia, raising fears of a so-called super-spreader event. A cluster of cases of the virus in France, Spain and the U.K. confirmed in the past day all appear to have links to a French ski resort where the infected people had contact with a British man who had just returned from the conference.

China’s central bank will provide the first batch of special re-lending funds for combating the coronavirus on Monday, and will offer the facility weekly to banks later this month. Nine major national banks and some local banks in ten provinces and cities are qualified for the special funding, according to People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Liu Guoqiang. Financial institutions should expedite the review process for loan applications and release loans within two days, Liu said in a speech posted on the PBOC’s website.

Stocks in Asia were likely heading for a cautious start Monday after the best week since mid-December, with investors continuing to monitor the rising coronavirus death toll. Currencies were largely steady in early trading. The S&P 500 Index fell along with Treasury yields on Friday, when futures on equities in Hong Kong and Japan declined. Australian contracts were flat. Investors are taking stock of a large rally that last week propelled global stocks back to all-time highs.

Australia’s sovereign wealth fund has been saying for months that with markets as elevated as they are now, generating gains is only going to get harder. So is finding the right asset managers. For the A$212 billion ($142 billion) Future Fund, picking investors is a higher-stakes decision given an outlook that implies market returns won’t be enough to meet its target. The problem: In public markets, manager skills are concentrating, meaning there are fewer funds beating their indexes after fees, Chief Investment Officer Raphael Arndt said. He also noted that the cash flooding into other asset classes, such as private equity, is taking up capacity with experienced hands.

Coming Up ...

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell address lawmakers this week and the focus will be on the risks to the U.S. economy from the coronavirus. Elsewhere this week, China inflation data comes Monday. Producer prices probably were flat in January from a year ago, according to forecasts, after six months of declines. Thursday brings a gauge of underlying U.S. inflation, the core consumer price index. It’s expected to increase to 0.2% in January, a faster pace than in December.  China and the U.S. on Friday lower tariffs on billions of dollars of respective imports, as part of the trade deal signed last month.

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