May 6, 2020 / 8:01 AM / 20 days ago

MORNING BID-Pinning hopes on Mickey Mouse

(A look at the day ahead from EMEA deputy markets editor Sujata Rao. The views expressed are her own.) Disney is planning to open its Shanghai theme park on May 11 - good news for a company that suffered a Q1 earnings drop of $1.4 billion. It will be one of the many businesses pinning hopes on China to lead the global recovery in demand for goods and services. Time will tell.

Elsewhere on the newswires though, we have economic recession, weak company earnings, Sino-U.S. tensions and a mounting coronavirus death toll. And into that mix yesterday was tossed a German constitutional court ruling that's jangled nerves over the European Central Bank's asset purchase programme.

But even as U.S. President Donald Trump repeated allegations that China should be held to account for the coronavirus pandemic, markets' mood isn't too bad this morning.

While European shares are down half a percent after a rash of weak earnings, Wall Street futures are pointing higher, U.S. and German bond yields have risen modestly. Asia posted a decent performance except for mainland Chinese shares playing catch-up after a long holiday to price renewed tensions with the United States.

There doesn't seem any real driver today, other than possibly just fatigue with the negative newsflow and clutching at straws that things will get better as economic activity resumes.

But the unease still pervading markets is keeping the yen near six-week highs against the dollar, while the euro is extending losses inflicted by yesterday's court ruling. It's at one-week lows to the dollar while against the yen, it's teetering near two-year lows.

There doesn't seem to be anything to cheer about in the euro zone at present. Data just released show German industrial orders at record lows in March.

Analysts are divided on the potential impact of the court ruling - which effectively hands the ECB a three-month ultimatum to justify its stimulus scheme. The ruling won't impact the ECB’s pandemic stimulus programme which it's relying on these days but could have repercussions further down the road, in particular for Italian debt.

Yields on Italian bonds, whacked yesterday by the court ruling, are down around 2 basis points this morning.

St Louis Fed president James Bullard felt impelled to weigh in last night, warning the euro zone divisions could impede the global economic rebound.

There are some signs of demand recovery in China, with General Motors noting a double-digit year-on-year sales growth there in April. But shares in cruise firm Norwegian tumbled 22% last night on concerns about whether it can keep going as a business.

Also in the travel and leisure sector, U.S. airlines are collectively burning more than $10 billion in cash a month because of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported, citing upcoming testimony by a trade group.

More news on banks and potential loan losses: Italy's Unicredit posted a huge $2.9 billion Q1 loss and booked 1.26 billion euros in net loan writedowns. Credit Agricole posted a 16.4% profits decline and tripled provisions against loan defaults. And Britain's Virgin Money swung to a loss, setting aside 237 million pounds for bad loans.

But the pharmaceutical sector shows its resilience, with Novo Nordisk joining U.S. rival Eli Lilly and others that have stuck to or raised full-year forecasts. German dialysis specialist Fresenius Medical Care also beat expectations and said its strong underlying business offset pandemic-related costs. France's BioMerieux announced the launch of a product to quickly detect the presence of antibodies in those exposed to the coronavirus.

Another winner is British online supermarket Ocado, with retail revenue up 40.4% year-on-year. And Telefonica Deutschland reported an acceleration in Q1 growth.

Elsewhere, BMW forecast a full-year automotive EBIT margin of 0% to 3%, versus the 2% to 4% range estimated before and expects "containment measures to seriously dampen demand across all major markets over the entire year 2020". Britain's ITV reported advertising revenues fell 42% last month.

In terms of what's coming up – expect final April services and composite PMIs in the euro zone as well as UK construction PMIs. We also get April U.S. ADP jobs data and earnings from General Motors, T-Mobile and PayPal among others.

In emerging markets, focus on Turkey where the lira is down 0.7% after the banking watchdog cut banks' lira transactions abroad further to 0.5% of their legal capital. Brazil's central bank meets today and is expected to cut rates by 50 bps to 3.25%.

Reuters reports that central bank policymakers are seeking legal cover to avoid personal liability as they look to get a QE programme off the ground. (editing by John Stonestreet)

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