The focus this week on Wall Street remains squarely on its annual economic symposium, traditionally held at Jackson Hole, though this year it will take place virtually due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Ears would remain squarely on Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks at the event for any clues regarding the timeline for Fed’s tapering of asset purchases, an issue that has buffeted financial markets in recent months. The S&P 500 index SPX marked its 50th all-time closing high of the year at 4,486.23. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.52% took 136 days from its last milestone at 14,000 to close at 15,019.80, marking the longest stretch before knocking out a thousand-point landmark since the 335 sessions between 8,000 and 9,000 back in 2018 – 2019, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
European stocks edged higher on Wednesday, with travel stocks rising for a fourth day, while markets globally were range-bound ahead of a policy update from the U.S. Federal Reserve later this week. The pan-European STOXX 600 index posted a modest gain at the open rising 0.1% at 0717 GMT. The European benchmark itself was just less than a percent away from its peak. Data from Germany’s Ifo institute was expected to show business morale eased further in August after falling unexpectedly in July due to concerns about a rise in COVID-19 cases and supply chain issues. Data eventually showed a miss for Germany but markets across assets have remained unmoved by the latest data so far. As at 0805 GMT the DAX in Germany has been largely flat, while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.2% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.1%.
Oil clung to the gains from its biggest two-day advance since November, with prices continuing to fluctuate amid concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on global consumption. Futures in London climbed above $70 on Tuesday and were little changed near $71 on Wednesday. Asia’s top crude importer, China has brought its latest virus outbreak under control, though Covid-19 continues to make its presence felt in other big oil consumers, with Japan expected to announce an expansion of its state of emergency. Data from the industry group the American Petroleum Institute, released late Tuesday, showed crude inventories fell 1.6 million barrels for the week ended Aug. 20, while gasoline stockpiles fell 1 million barrels. Official data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due to be released later Wednesday.
GABON has seen its long-term foreign currency (LFTC) issue default rating upgraded from “CCC” to “B-“. The upgrade reflects a recent easing in liquidity pressures on the back of higher oil prices and a new IMF program. It also reflects the expectation that Gabon’s underlying fiscal position will improve due to a rebound in non-oil revenues, a reduction in pandemic-related spending and restraint in other current expenditures. The news of the upgrade saw prices on the GABON sovereign paper move +.25pts higher on the average across the curve.