Mixed pandemic fortunes, earnings, and Ether rises.
Opening and closing
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the country's lockdown rules are to the scrapped in seven weeks' time. In the U.S., major cities are coming back to life as restrictions are lifted, and economic activity is booming. The story remains very different in emerging markets, particularly in Asia where India remains in the grip of a massive outbreak, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi resisting pressure to implement a national lockdown as deaths mount.
The biggest factor deciding a nation's emergence from the crisis is the pace of vaccination, so today's earnings from Pfizer Inc. before the bell will be closely watched for production news. Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies AG warned that about 2.5 million cars won't be produced in the first six months of this year due to supply chain bottlenecks. Saudi Aramco's profits soared in the first quarter, with India consumption flagged as a key concern.
The run-up in Ether, the crypto token associated with the Ethereum blockchain, continues with the second-largest digital coin approaching $3,500 in overnight trading. The popularity of the coin, which is happening at the expense of Bitcoin's dominance of the sector, comes as its blockchain is proving popular for financial services and cryptocollectibles.
The relatively subdued start to the month continues this morning with few new catalysts to drive stocks amid a busy earnings season. Overnight the MCSI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.1% while Japan's Topix index closed 0.6% lower. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was 0.1% higher at 5:50 a.m. Eastern Time with mining stocks the best performers. S&P 500 futures pointed to a small move lower at the open, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 1.621%, oil rallied past $65 a barrel and gold dipped.
U.S. March trade balance data is at 8:30 a.m., with factory orders and the final reading of durable goods orders for the month at 10:00 a.m. G-7 foreign ministers meet in London. Regional Fed Presidents Mary Daly, Neel Kashkari and Robert Kaplan speak later. The Bloomberg Wealth Summit begins. CVS Health Corp., Lyft Inc. and T-Mobile US Inc. are among the many companies reporting today.
What we've been reading
Here's what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.
And finally, here’s what Joe's interested in this morning
Yesterday Tracy Alloway and I talked to Ryan Petersen, the CEO of the firm Flexport, about the ongoing logistical havoc facing companies all over the world right now. The episode will be out next week, but one thing he confirmed is that at least from his perspective, there are still no signs of the strains ebbing. There are still delays and bottlenecks basically everywhere you look across supply chains.
One line from the latest IHS Markit Eurozone Manufacturing PMI helps explain why things will take a long time to smooth out:
"Fearful of ongoing shortages in supply, and faced with rising output and order requirements, manufacturers increased their purchasing activity at an unprecedented rate."
Since firms are afraid of supply shortages they're increasing their orders at the same time which will… contribute to supply shortages. And on and on it goes.
At the core of the issue is simply the fact that the global trade system wasn't built for a period during which there would be such a spike in demand for physical goods, as the pandemic caused a shift in consumption away from services.
Ultimately Petersen doesn't see a true normalization until we get a further reopening and demand for goods starts to meaningfully downshift again. The good news, theoretically, is that some of the strains we're seeing could actually ease once things ostensibly normalize.
Joe Weisenthal is an editor at Bloomberg
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