CNA’s Asia First: US market pullback, less intense fear of COVID
Tony Nash joins the Asia First team again for another look at the US market pullback. What was the reason for that — is it the Biden’s VP candidate, the stimulus, or others? Also discussed were the market sentiments and what Nash thinks is lacking in the US economy right now. He also shared what Americans feel about COVID right now and what it means for businesses. Lastly, they discussed East Asia versus South Asia.
This video is the segment of Tony Nash from the August 12, 2020 full-length video episode, which was originally published by CNA for their Asia First show. You can find the source https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/video-on-demand/asia-first/wed-12-aug-2020-13015722
CNA: Tony Nash joins us now. He’s founder and CEO Complete Intelligence. He’s speaking to us from Houston, Texas, USA. Tony, we’re seeing this pullback in the markets overnight. I don’t know if it comes as a surprise to you. Is this the realization that the stimulus package might not be imminent. Is this who Biden has picked for a running mate or are there other factors at play here that have influenced the market?
TN: It’s really more about yields than anything. We’ve seen the impact of yields on precious metals. The impact on silver was most dramatic. But with equities, we saw a little bit of a pullback then. But we don’t necessarily feel like equities are in at a correction point at the moment. It might be some political news on Joe Biden’s VP candidate but I don’t necessarily see that being a disappointment. I don’t think there were huge expectations there.
There isn’t big COVID news in the U.S. There’s not necessarily major China news outside of the Alex Azar’s visit to Taiwan and the Hong Kong stuff, but there isn’t huge market impact on that. So really, it’s about yields and it’s about the expectation of stimulus.
CNA: Right, how much further downside do you see for the markets then?
TN: In the U.S., we think markets are fairly healthy assuming stimulus is coming. Now, U.S. legislators have gone for the rest of the summer. But there’s really nothing keeping Trump from issuing more stimulus like what he did over the weekend. I mean, there are things legally but he’s issued an executive order over the weekend to do that and it was a fair bit of stimulus coming down the pike.
What’s missing is stimulus for small and mid-sized businesses, which we had in May, June, but that really dried up at the end of July. So, we’ve seen almost 200,000 small businesses close in the U.S..
Really the question is, will there be more stimulus there in terms of cash flow to help the demand issues that small and medium-sized businesses are seeing in the U.S.? One of the key things that we’re finding, over the last week we’ve seen a lot of clarity come around whether American kids will go back to school at the end of August or in September. We’re seeing more and more school districts coming online saying yes they want kids back in school. Many of them in person some of them virtually but that helps American workers get back into the office as needed and where needed and gives them focus. So I would expect productivity to improve quite a lot in Q3 as parents and kids are back in school and many of them are back there physically.
CNA: But the case counts in the country. I mean, that certainly is weighing on sentiment is it not? And you know the idea that the country hasn’t quite got a hold on it, there is a possibility that they will have to start, stop the economy and it’s not as straightforward as going ahead with those lockdowns. When you do it a second, third time, that’s just going to have this permanent damage to the U.S. economy?
TN: Sure, that’s right. But I think the focus in the U.S. has really gone away from case counts. People are really looking at mortality. They’re really looking at clusters. They’re really looking at transmissibility. And so, I think in the U.S., the sentiment and the desire to close down. Generally, people are kind of over it. The fear of COVID is not as intense as it was two months ago. People realize that it’s a disease, it’s a virus. It comes and goes. The incidence rate and the death rate is actually fairly low.
The U.S. has done tens of millions of tests and so people are realizing that the high case counts are very related to the tests and this is going out through a lot of different mechanisms at the state level and the national level in the US. It’s not to say it’s gone. It’s not to say that we have zero cases. But a lot of countries in a lot of locations that say they have zero cases. I’m not necessarily sure that the testing is being done as thoroughly as it could be.
CNA: All right we’re also seeing that improvement of economic indicators in the Asian region, industrial output, some export figures look like they are on the uptrend in China for example. How much of this is going to be a divergent play east Asia versus south Asia for example?
TN: We really see east Asia lagging, although the Chinese data like the auto data that came in yesterday it looks okay. On year on year basis it looks pretty good. But I’m not necessarily convinced that that’s sustainable, given the demand issues that we saw in the first half of the year. There are ongoing worries that we’ll see issues in China’s economy and political issues in China with Hong Kong and other places.
We’re expecting east Asian markets to really not do well this month. We’ve expected kind of more than a one percent decline this month in east asian markets generally between say one and three percent based on the market in south Asia because they’re less China connected. We expect them to be flat to slightly down. So, this month generally we’re expecting a slight pullback in Asia but south Asia fares a bit better than east Asia, although it’s not that dramatic.