Dow Futures Gain as President Trump Signals COVID Recovery; Market Volatility Gauge Ticks Higher

President Trump’s appearance Sunday, during which he greeted supporters outside Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, boosted global stocks Monday, but questions over the timeline of his infection, and the severity of his illness, continue to trouble investors.

The Monday Market Minute

  • Global stocks trade higher as President Donald Trump’s condition appears to improve following a Sunday video from Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington.
  • Trump, in a motorcade, appears before supporters in Bethesda, Maryland, but questions over the President’s true condition — and the timeline of his infection — remain.
  • Safe-haven assets ease as markets key on a possible Trump release from hospital later today, while a key measure of stock market volatility continues to tick higher.
  • U.S. equity futures suggest a firmer open on Wall Street ahead of PMI data at 10:00 am Eastern time.

U.S. equity futures advanced Monday, while a key measure of market volatility also ticked higher, as investors reacted to the reportedly improving condition of President Donald Trump, who remains in a Washington hospital following following his Friday revelation that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump’s condition, however, remains largely unknown, given that his personal physician, Dr. Sean Conley, admitted Sunday that he gave the media inaccurate information on the President’s oxygen levels in order to paint a more ‘upbeat’ assessment of his condition.

Doctors at Walter Reed Medical Center in Betheda, Maryland, have suggested the President could be released as early as today, but have also detailed the litany of  treatments he is currently undergoing, including doses of the steroid dexmethasone, which is usually reserved for patients suffering more severe conditions of the respiratory disease.

Trump’s appearance late Sunday evening in a motorcade that circled the Water Reed facility drew criticism from medial professionals concerned that he could infect secret service staff, but also lifted U.S. equity futures as investors deemed the President healthy enough to return to the White House in the coming days.

Futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average suggest a 190 point opening bell gain, while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 22 point advance to kick-off the trading week.

The VIX index, however, was also tracking at its highest levels in at least a week, at 29.1 points, suggesting investors are poised to change tack quickly if news of the President’s condition were to worsen in the coming hours.

Safe-haven assets also eased lower following the President’s motorcade visit to supporters in Maryland, as well as a video he posted on Twitter that appeared to indicate he was in good spirits, with the U.S. dollar index slipping 0.23% to 93.614 against a basket of six global currencies and benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields breaking out of their recent trading range to be pegged at 0.716% in overnight dealing.

Political developments in Washington and around the country are likely to drive market sentiment this week, given the dearth of economic and earnings releases scheduled, as will the pace of coronavirus infections, which are increasing quickly in Europe and have passed the 35 million mark worldwide.

House Speak Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to resume stimulus talks this week, following several days of what the pair have said has been ‘good progress’ on a compromise bill that could be worth  between $1. trillion and $2.2 trillion.

Polls, meanwhile, continue to indicate a commanding lead for former Vice President Joe Biden, who continues to campaign in the wake of the President’s illness after himself testing negative for the coronavirus on two separate occasions over the past week.

Elsewhere, European stocks bumped higher amid the positive global market sentiment, with the Stoxx 600 rising 0.7% in Frankfurt and Britain’s FTSE 100 trading 0.74% higher in London. 

Asia stocks were similarly firmer, with a solid 1.15% gain for the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo and a 1.18% gain for the region-wide MSCI ex-Japan benchmark despite market closures in China for the nation’s national holiday celebrations.