Coronavirus impact on Global Indexes (2020) – US, Europe, Russia, India & More: India, currently in stage II of the novel coronavirus with over 500 cases reported throughout the country. This has resulted in an entire country imposing a lockdown. The center is still caught up in its efforts to make the gravity of the situation heard with the PM himself addressing the nation. The PM also had requested the nation to take part in a self-imposed curfew along with a noteworthy attempt at a show of admiration for all the essential services.
Indians today are going through a phase never experienced before at any of the earlier outbreaks. However, this turbulent phase has not only been limited to our personal lives but also as investors we are breaking into bearish conditions. These conditions were not foreseen at the initial stages of the outbreak.
With the Sensex falling over 36.54% since January 31st we take a look at how some other notable indexes around the world have fared against COVID-19 and also look into the respective government responses in such economies. The table below shows how the following global Indexes have performed since January 31:
CountryIndex% Change: Jan 31 - March 23, 2020 RussiaRTS41.74% BrazilBOVESPA41.04% IndiaSENSEX36.20% ItalyFTSE MIB32.30% USADOW JONES32.14% GermanyDAX31.22% FranceCAC30.27% UKFTSE28.76% ChinaSSE COMPOSITE3.15%
Table of Contents
Quick Start: What is an Index?
Indices are used as a benchmark to measure performance. An index consists of major companies listed in the stock exchange which are measured together to arrive at a value representative of the entire market over a period of time. The stocks involved are weighted based on the capitalization of the respective company.
Country-based indexes track how the national stock exchange is performing. The NIFTY in India consists of the top 50 stocks listed in the NSE. The Sensex in India is representative of the top 30 stocks listed in the BSE. Further, an index is also a market sentiment indicator.
Coronavirus impact on Global Indexes
— Coronavirus effect on Russian Markets (RTS – 41.74%)
The Russian Trading System (RTS) Index faced an overall drop of 41.74% since January 31st. However, the problems faced by the RTS were not limited to the coronavirus panic but also due to the oil price crash. The crash was caused due to the Russian fallout with OPEC. This had a critical effect on the Russian economy due to its main export being oil.
Coronavirus affected the market once it further spread through the European region. This further led to the Foreign Investors engaging in panic selling. Russian Sberbank which declared a $3.2 billion in profit still suffered a fall of 5% in its stock price.
CEBR a leading economic consultancy from the UK forecasted the Russian economy to sink by 4% in 2020. The forecast also included little expectation of a short term rebound. Although the central bank remains uncertain about rate cuts, Russia will create a $4 billion anti-crisis fund to protect its economy from the coronavirus shock.
— Coronavirus against the Brazilian market (BOVESPA – 41.04%)
It may seem surprising to find a South American country to have a market hit as hard as the BOVESPA Index. The BOVESPA Index suffers a 41.04% market fall even though it is not considered a hotspot for coronavirus. This was because of the dependence of Brazilian exports on the Chinese markets.
In 2018, almost 25% of Brazilian exports and almost half of the commodity exports were directed towards China. These suffered a hit during the demand slump China faced due to the outbreak. This added to the roadblocks created by their business-minded President Jair Bolsonaro over the development of the Amazon Rainforest. This has led to investors avoiding the Brazilian market particularly after his unfavorable stance towards the environment after the Amazon fires.
The outbreak indirectly led to foreign investors further exiting the market in the crisis. The Brazilian market faces a situation where it fails to attract dip buyers as well. Furthermore, even the 30 billion package unveiled by the government has been criticized over its failure too adequately apprehend the magnitude of the problem.
— Coronavirus against European Markets
The problems in Europe can be attributed to most of the countries considering Corona an East Asian issue. Europe is currently a hotspot for the COVID-19 with Italy, Spain, Germany, and France being hit the worst. All of their markets fell at around 30% with further lockdowns imposed. The stock markets in Europe were further impacted after Trump announced a ban of all flights headed from Europe to the US.
France also threatened to close its borders to the UK over its inadequate action taken towards containment of the virus. Over 6,000 people are suffering from the virus in the UK. The turmoil in Europe was further intensified with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel going into quarantine after one of her doctors was tested positive for coronavirus.
The European Central Bank is expected to cut interest rates into the negative territory. The Central Bank is to also extend long term loans to banks in an attempt to provide relief to Italy and the other European countries where coronavirus has a devastating effect.
The following packages were announced by the European governments to combat coronavirus:
CountryRescue Package(Billion)Directed towards Italy$28Employment, Healthcare, Bonuses for Emergency Services and loans to Small and Medium businesses Germany$610Companies hit by Corona in addition to relaxed tax norms France$335Loans to Businesses, in addition, to pay to workers who lost jobs. Spain$200To fight Corona Epidemic Spain$100Small and Medium Businesses UK$424Health services and Loan guarantee to Businesses
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority has also directed companies to not release preliminary financial statements for at least another two weeks due to coronavirus.
— Coronavirus against the US Markets ( Dow Jones – 32.14%)
The US also suffered from the ignorance and underestimation of the virus. The virus has currently affected over 45,000 people in the US. Stock markets in the US were initially affected due to the crude oil price crash. This was due to the high marginal cost of production prevalent in the US which stands at 40$ per barrel whereas the barrel prices were slashed to around 30$ per barrel.
This was followed by the coronavirus panic and Trump travel ban against 26 European countries further impacting the Airline Industry. The number of coronavirus cases has exploded in the US since then.
(The ‘V-J Day in Times Square – New York’ iconic photograph depicted with medical masks over Coronavirus)
Measures taken by the US government include unemployment benefits, sick leave benefits, free coronavirus treatment including food and medical aid to people affected. Also, $50 billion has been announced as an immediate relief for the airline industry and $50 billion in further secured loans to other parts of the economy.
Congress is also further negotiating a 1 Trillion dollar rescue plan along with sharp rate cuts by the Federal Reserve. These measures have also led to corporations postponing layoffs in return for a big bailout.
— Coronavirus against the Indian Markets (Sensex – 36.20%)
With the Sensex falling 26.54% since January 31st and the Nifty 50 falling 31.85% in the last 30 days. Trouble began with the crude oil price fall which would have been welcome in any other situation as India relies heavily on import of crude oil. Any benefits due to the price fall were put to a halt due to the effects of coronavirus on the airline and tourism industry and eventual lockdowns which resulted in a drop in demand. With the officially reported cases within the country touching 500, the question remains if the healthcare infrastructure can bear the burden of an increase in cases.
The RBI announced that it will conduct an open market purchase of bonds worth up to Rs 15,000 crore besides announcing a fresh round of fund infusion from variable-rate repos. With the cases in India increasing the government has called for lockdown in multiple states which will further affect the volatility of the market.
However, the RBI has also created a unique Business Contingency Plan(BCP) by setting up a team of 90 process critical members from the RBI of which only half will work at any given time whereas the remaining half will wait on stand-by, 60 key personnel from their external vendors and 69 additional support staff, all to work in a War Room during the outbreak. A facility has been hired where the 219 members will be hosted.
Precautions are taken to an extent where all personnel will also be donning hazmat suits. This also includes the support staff involved in maintenance, security, kitchen, front desk, and the administration. The BCP also involves maintaining isolation and social distancing of the 219 members.
In addition to the actions taken by the RBI, the state governments are also resorting to providing financial relief to those affected by the respective lockdowns imposed.
— Coronavirus against the Chinese Markets ( SSE Composite Index – 3.15%)
The Chinese Shanghai Composite Index (SSE) has fallen 0.04% since 3rd February. These figures would not form a fair comparison as the epidemic hit China first in December, whereas all the other regions faced the pandemic in the other European countries increasing in February and March itself.
However, even when the fall is measured since December the net impact on the Chinese market lies at 4.53%. Then how is it possible that of all the countries China has one of the least impacted stock markets even after being the worst-hit place by a coronavirus and also being the point of origination.
The Chinese government imposed stringent lockdowns and also suffered a 10% fall between 22 January to 3rd February. This was followed by the central bank announcing that it would inject $174 billion worth of liquidity into the market through reverse repo operations in addition to rate cuts.
The Chinese policymakers found ways to reach vulnerable households of Social Security Fees, Utility bills and provided them with other immediate requirements during the lockdown. Also, the most important economic effect against the virus would be the aggressive stand taken by the authorities by doing everything necessary particularly by ramping up its healthcare needs, stringent lockdowns which gave a brighter outlook in terms of economic prospects as life slowly resumes in China.
However, Goldmann has forecasted that the Chinese economy instead of growing by 2.5% will contract by 9% in 2020.
The Road Ahead
(The Bullish Markets enjoyed previously by investors have come to a full stop. Interestingly stocks of gaming companies like Ubisoft are expected to be on the rise after lockdown and quarantine measures taken by the governments worldwide)
Lockdowns are now becoming a necessity. Rate cuts and infusion of cash into the economy seem to be the only way out to protect economies from the COVID-19 quicksand. However, we have currently seen countries that are facing coronavirus in the 3rd stage generally have a stronger infrastructure and better healthcare facilities but are still not able to cope.
Nations with a poorer infrastructure will face an impossible task if the spread of the virus spirals out of control. This calls for aggressive measures to the taken to prevent the spread of the virus in these countries until a suitable vaccine is officially declared by the WHO.
Pertaining to the current scenario banks like JP Morgan have forecasted a coronavirus driven recession that will rock the US and Europe by July. Deutsche Bank has also warned that based on current trends we could be facing a severe global recession over time.
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