China Says U.S. Response Harmful; Flights Halted: Virus Update
Comment of the Day

January 31 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Says U.S. Response Harmful; Flights Halted: Virus Update

This summary of today’s news from Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

Chinese officials took issue with U.S. comments about the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, and promised they would bring the infection under control.

“U.S. comments are inconsistent with the facts and inappropriate.” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in statement posted online Friday. The World Health Organization “called on countries to avoid adopting travel bans. Yet shortly afterward, the U.S. went in the opposite direction, and started a very bad turn. It is so unkind.”

U.S. officials said this week that they had difficulty getting specialists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the front lines of the outbreak in China, and late Thursday the State Department advised Americans traveling in China to come home. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday also said the outbreak may help bring jobs back to the U.S.

China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Chen Xu, said during a press conference in Geneva that the country had been transparent about the disease.

“We have conducted our business in an open and transparent manner with the outside world,” he said.

Xu said that China would work with the World Health Organization to bring the disease under control, following a declaration by the WHO that the outbreak was an international emergency. The declaration will “not only coordinate global prevention control measures but enables us to mobilize international resources to respond to the epidemic,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view

“Official” figures are just below 10,000. This Lancet article suggests 76000 infections. The death toll is reported at around 200 but if that is the case why are crematoria running 24/7? The biggest challenge the Chinese administration has is their claims of full disclosure are being met with doubt because they have such a poor record of reporting accurate facts about any part of the economy. Little wonder that other countries are taking more forceful measures to isolate the country until the infection rate peaks and begins to decline.  

This graphic from the New York Times highlights just how much we still have to learn about this coronavirus. If we think logically about the outbreak and the number of repatriated individuals who have tested positive for the virus, it is reasonable to assume the numbers of infected people are far higher than the official estimates.

The majority of the Chinese economy will stay closed for an additional week but the stock is due to open on Monday. That is an event which is likely to have a marked effect on sentiment because it will give Chinese investors an opportunity to vote on how well the crisis is being managed. The Chinese market can’t fall more than 10% because that is when trading gets shut down. A massive government stimulus will be required to avert a crash and just that kind of assistance is likely.

There was evidence of profit taking ahead of the Chinese open today on stock markets ahead of this uncertain event, despite impressive earnings results by mega-cap shares over the last few days. The potential for a pullback towards the trend mean, represented by the 200-day MA, is looking more likely as a result.

Bond investors are losing no time as they price in an imminent rate cut.

Copper has fallen on consecutive days and is now back testing the lower side of its range over the last couple of years. It will need to bounce soon in order to demonstrate support in this area.

The Baltic Dry Index is back testing its 2016 lows which represented an important nadir in sentiment at the time.

Gold continues to firm within its short-term range and remains on a medium-term recovery trajectory. 

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