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Oct 28, 2020

S&P 500 tumbles in worst stock rout in four months

BNN Bloomberg's closing bell update: October 28, 2020


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Stocks tumbled in the U.S. and Europe as rising coronavirus infections and tougher lockdowns added to worries about the economic hit from the pandemic.

The S&P 500 Index fell 3.5 per cent, the biggest drop since June, amid a surge in Covid-19 hospitalizations, especially in the Midwest. Energy shares sank with oil prices, and technology stocks were also among the worst performers, with Microsoft Corp. down after a disappointing forecast. The VIX Index, a measure of expected U.S. equity volatility, climbed to the highest level since June.

The U.S. and European stock benchmarks are both down more than 5 per cent this week as virus cases surge and after American lawmakers failed to agree on an economic aid package before the Nov. 3 election. Analysts are also warning about increased volatility ahead of the presidential vote and in its aftermath, with some saying that a contested outcome is still a worrisome possibility.

“We’ve obviously got the election hanging over our heads. Then obviously Covid accelerating to the degree that it has both here in the U.S. as well as in Europe,” said Lori Heinel, deputy global chief investment officer at State Street Global Advisors. “And then you’ve got the lack of stimulus, which in our estimation is still necessary to get us through this period until we get an ultimate medical solution. It’s the triple whammy right now.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell to a five-month low, losing 3 per cent as German Chancellor Angela Merkel reached a deal for a one-month partial lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. After the market closed, France imposed a new nationwide lockdown.

Elsewhere, oil fell sharply on concern raging infections will sap demand. The dollar jumped and gold slumped. An exchange-traded fund tracking junk-rated corporate bonds fell to a one-month low. Bitcoin headed to its biggest drop in a month.

In Asia, stocks fared better. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index edged lower, and markets in South Korea and Shanghai posted modest gains. In China, indicators tracked by Bloomberg showed the recovery continued to display mixed signals while remaining broadly steady in October.

These are some events to watch this week:

  • Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank have monetary policy decisions Thursday, followed by briefings from Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and President Christine Lagarde.
  • The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee holds its plenum through Friday, where it’s expected to chart the course for the economy’s development for the next 15 years.
  • Brexit negotiating teams have started intense daily talks, and these are likely to continue as both sides push to finalize a deal by the middle of November.
  • The first reading of U.S. third-quarter GDP Thursday is anticipated to be the strongest on record following a record dive in the prior quarter as many businesses were shuttered by the pandemic.

Here are the main moves in markets:


  • The S&P 500 Index dropped 2.8 per cent as of 4 p.m. New York time.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index decreased 3 per cent.
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.5 per cent.


  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.6 per cent.
  • The British pound declined 0.5 per cent to US$1.2981.
  • The Japanese yen gained 0.1 per cent to 104.35 per dollar.


  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries was little changed at 0.77 per cent.
  • Germany’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to -0.63 per cent.
  • Britain’s 10-year yield decreased two basis points to 0.21 per cent.


  • West Texas Intermediate crude sank 5.6 per cent to US$37.36 a barrel.
  • Gold weakened 1.6 per cent to US$1,878.26 an ounce.

--With assistance from Adam Haigh, Greg Ritchie, Todd White and Sophie Caronello.

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