Weekly Outlook (13-17 April)

Over the weekend we didn’t hear much of good news but climbing infection numbers worldwide, inferring that we are yet to reach a global peak. The COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on the global economy will remain a focal point among investors this week.

Cases of the virus are still increasing around the globe. As of Monday morning confirmed cases exceeded 1.8 million with over 110,000 total deaths according to Johns Hopkins University data. Over the weekend, total deaths in the U.S. topped those in Italy. There were more than 550,000 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 22,115 deaths.

On Wednesday, it is expected that the latest Beige Book survey of economic conditions is likely to paint a horrific picture of a US economy. The widespread job losses, as well as the decline in business activity, are likely to resonate for a while.

Earnings season kicks off with big banks gearing up to report earnings this week. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo will report Tuesday, Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are scheduled to report Wednesday and BlackRock will round things out on Thursday.

One of the main characteristics of US bank earnings in recent quarters is how often they have beaten expectations. In January, JPMorgan Chase posted revenue of $29.2bn, a record for Q4, with profit at $8.52bn. We could expect recent volatility to have boosted its investment banking part in Q1, and expect a slowdown in the retail bank. With this in mind, this week’s result from the likes of JPMorgan could come in the lower end of expectations. Goldman Sachs may outperform given its lack of retail exposure and the fact that its investment banking margins tend to be better.

Key data to keep an eye on include:
• Tuesday: JPMorgan Chase & Wells Fargo Q1 results
• Wednesday: Citigroup & JPMorgan Q1 results
• Thursday: BlackRock Q1 results
• Friday: Morgan Stanley & State Street Q1 results; China Q1 GDP: data is expected to show the Chinese economy declined sharply in Q1. The only unknown in the equation remains the extent of the economic slowdown.