As U.S congress continues to argue over the size of a new economic support package after the additional unemployment benefits expired. Investors have remained cautious with COVID-19 infections on the rise again in the U.S. and elsewhere. Uncertainty over the course of the pandemic and over how it will affect the economy has clouded market’s sentiments, with the benchmark S&P 500 on track to fall 4.7% this month, its worst month since March when the stock market plunged sharply as outbreaks spread in the U.S. The S&P 500 index SPX had a sharp fall of 16.13 points to 3,335.47, after rallying the day before, while technology-heavy Nasdaq composite COMP lost 0.3%, to close at 11,085.25.
Despite the positive numbers from China’s September PMI coming in at 51.5, beating August’s 51 reading, and the non-manufacturing PMI was 55.9 against August’s 55.2, market stocks in Asia were mixed, while market shares in China were lifted. The Hang Seng HIS in Hong Kong jumped 1.3% but fell back from a 2.1% gain earlier in the morning while the Shanghai Composite index SHCOMP surged 0.5%.
On Wednesday, we witnessed a 3.2% fall in oil prices dragging much of the energy sector down as well. This would be recorded as the first monthly loss since April with the world’s biggest traders signaling a meaningful recovery in demand is some time off. Markets continue to contend with rising supply from Libya and Russia the latest member of the OPEC+ group likely to also be exceeding their supply quota.
In the SSA sphere, major headlines making the round continues to be Zambia. They are the first African nation to seek debt relief from Eurobond holders since the onset of the pandemic. In a presentation yesterday, Zambia’s Finance Minister Bwalya Ng’andu stressed the need to reach a restructuring deal with creditors by the end of a six-month interest standstill. The government also plans to reach an agreement in principle with the International Monetary Fund over an economic program in the same time frame.