US stock futures stabilized overnight after another widowmaking session on Monday, even as strategists across Wall Street warned their clients not to try and ‘catch the falling knife’ – but in the absence of any concrete headlines, it seems traders in Japan are finally realizing that the White House is moving closer to the type of fiscal stimulus they want to see. And in Europe, though the G-7’s “whatever it takes” pledge didn’t do much to quiet local markets, reports about the Eurogroup potentially tapping into a €410 bailout fund appear to have done the job.
Another snippet of good news overnight: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have been released from their quarantines, signaling that they have won their battles with the virus.
But perhaps the biggest headline, which landed late last night, was certainly discouraging: The death toll in the US saw its largest daily jump yet on Monday. The US death toll climbed to 85, with more than 4,660 cases confirmed, according to Johns Hopkins. Worldwide, more than 7,150 people have been killed by the virus. This, combined with Trump’s comment last night that the outbreak could last into July or August if the world doesn’t take proper measures, rattled the news in the US.
But there was also positive news: Regeneron reported that tests for its “antibody-based” remedies for the coronavirus infection could be ready for the final round of clinical testing by the beginning of the summer, which could see a drug shipped by the end of the summer, according to CNBC’s Meg Tirrell.
Pfizer, meanwhile, announced it would partner with a Swiss biotech company to produce a vaccine using a technology similar to Moderna.
Reporting from Beijing, CNBC’s Eunice Yoon, reported that a Chinese trial for favipiravir, another antiviral designed to treat the virus, showed “promising” results.
#China researchers have completed clinical studies of #favipiravir, which shows promising clinical efficacy in treating novel #coronavirus pneumonia, head of China National Center for Biotechnology Development, said Tuesday. https://t.co/XJg54zofuv @megtirrell @ScottGottliebMD
— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) March 17, 2020
After Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last night that he would push for an $840 billion economic rescue package for the administration’s third rescue bill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin one-upped him in a leaked report to Politico’s Morning Playbook (which hits at around the time most US traders are beginning their pre-market research) claiming that he was pushing for an $850 billion package.
NEW … PLAYBOOK: MNUCHIN seeking $850 billion from Congress …
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 17, 2020
California Gov. Gavin Newsom yesterday ordered all bars, restaurants and wineries in the state closed, one day after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti acted unilaterally to impose similar restrictions in LA. California, the largest state in the US which accounts for 1/5th of US GDP, also suspended its state legislature for the next month. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy ordered residents in his state not to leave their ho,es between the hours of 8 pm and 5 am.
Restrictions have also been imposed by other states, including New York, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland and others. in Connecticut, there have been whispers about a full quarantine and the call-up of national guard troops in the state.
With a hodgepodge of local authorities moving to combat the virus in their communities, more businesses and brands are ordering stores to close. After McDonald’s closed its dining rooms and play areas, fitness classes like SoulCycle and OrangeTheory have suspended all classes.
Finally, 8 US banks also got together overnight and accessed the discount window to try and “remove the stigma” as Steve Leisman reported in the midst of the central bank’s additional repo-market interventions.
In China, official data suggests the domestic outbreak is over. Across the country, 20 new cases were reported last night, 19 of whom were ‘travelers’ from abroad. Of course, any new arrivals to China will be herded into 14-day quarantines as Beijing tightens its borders, like everybody else.
At this point, much of the Balkans and Central Europe has shut its borders: Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and a handful of others have instituted strict restrictions or all-out bans on non-citizen, non-resident travelers entering their borders. Last night, French President Emmanuel Macron shut down France and tightened borders as the EU declared that it would begin limiting travel into the Schengen Area.
Some other good news overnight: Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has shipped some 400,000 tests. As drug trials continue at a breakneck pace in China and in the US, the Washington Post has published perhaps the most comprehensive investigation into the CDC’s failure to distribute tests. The story seems to suggest that the errors were largely made by CDC bureaucrats and Obama-administration holdovers, though that wasn’t WaPo’s angle.
Yesterday, the CDC confirmed that one of its employees had tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, the WHO followed up by reporting that two of its staffers had tested positive.
Poland has become the latest government to confirm that at least one senior official has caught the virus. In the Philippines, the quarantine ordered for the island of Luzon, where roughly half the country’s 104 million people live, has created complications, including preventing health-care workers from getting home, and from getting to work.
Late last night, when President Trump blamed the “Chinese Virus” for hurting American businesses, we suspected that American liberals and the Chinese regime (two groups that have been oddly in sync as of late) would respond with fury.
The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus. We will be stronger than ever before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 16, 2020
Individual epidemiologists warned the comment could strain relations with Beijing at a critical time…
Calling it a “Chinese Virus” makes me incredibly sad. I’m a proud American (happen to be born in China), who is an American thru & thru. This global 🌎 virus knows no race, no creed, or ethnic origin. Let’s conquer #COVID19 together, not apart.🙏 https://t.co/Pzpvy3PAiD
— Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) March 17, 2020
The Chinese Foreign Ministry slammed Trump for “insulting China”, and said the US should “learn to take care of its own business.” Just like how China should learn to develop their own technologies instead of just stealing everyone’s trade secrets.
And of course the Chinese press once again blasted the president’s “racism” in blaming China for a virus that originated in China, and was unleashed upon the world thanks to the CPC’s callousness and indiscretion .
— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) March 17, 2020
Of course, if Beijing finds this phrasing so offensive, then why does it continue to call Swine Flu the ‘African Swine Flu’?
So why do prc officials not insist on a name change for African swine fever? Or did I miss their repeated expressions of indignation about a name that stigmatizes an entire continent? https://t.co/OOVW0d5TmY
— Bill Bishop (@niubi) March 17, 2020