European stock markets are squeezing out small gains on Monday, with investors encouraged by efforts in China to support the economy as it continues to battle the coronavirus.

The numbers we’re seeing are already pretty dreadful – to say the least – and they’re continuing to rise, with the death toll above 1,700. That’s more than double SARS and it’s still rising at a fairly rapid rate. When you consider that only a few weeks ago people were fearing it could be as bad, the reality is really quite shocking.

It’s naturally difficult to quantify the economic impact as well as, not only are we still in the midst of the crisis, the Chinese economy is vastly bigger and more important than it was back in 2003.

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Japan looks particularly vulnerable to recession in the first quarter after sharply contracting in Q4, as the government hiked the sales tax prompting a steep decline in consumer spending. This may not be as severe in the current quarter but the effects of coronavirus could combine to push the economy into recession.

Investors have been buoyed by a rate cut and liquidity injection from the PBOC, while the government is poised to announce tax cuts and spending to offset the economic damage. This helped lift Chinese stocks on Monday and is providing some support to Europe as well, as investors look ahead to lift after COVID-19.

Gold stalling again just shy of recent peaks

Gold in edging lower on Monday having taken another run at the high $1,500’s and again hit a wall. This time it came shy of the $1,590 region, where it fell apart a couple of weeks ago, which is hardly encouraging. A failure to even reach previous peaks is not supportive of the rally, although there is still time, it’s not over just yet.

The recovery is on

Oil’s recovery has been much more impressive. The COVID-19 numbers may be getting uglier by the day but traders are none-the-less encouraged that the situation is on the up and that the worst is now priced in. Crude prices have a large shortfall to make up but 8% gains over the last week are a good start. There’s plenty of potential resistance in Brent between the current levels and $60 though so progress may slow a little. A move above here would be promising.

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