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  • USD/JPY holds steady in Tokyo opening hour as investors weigh COVID-19 headlines and mixed sentiment.
  • Nations are seeking plans to get back to work despite contagion risks as new COVID-19 cases slow. 

USD/JPY oscillated between 107.17 and 108.08 over the day, adding 0.5% at 107.95 and is currently flat around 107.88 at the time of writing in Tokyo’s opening hour. 

There was a mixed session on Wall Street as uncertainty over COVID-19 and the implications for getting nations back to work in order to kick start the global economy while new global cases rose again yesterday. Confirmed cases have now surpassed 2m. However, the number of cases is slowing on a weekly basis. Worldwide cases passed 1 million on April 2, and with the latest figures hitting 2 million, we have thus doubled over the last 13 days, whereas it took 8 days previously to double from 500,000. 

US data was poor, as to be expected, pertaining to the lockdowns for which were expended in New York and the UK. For US data, US weekly initial jobless claims for the week to 11 April were 5.3mn, slightly below expectations but bringing the total to 22m over the past 4 weeks. The April Philadelphia Fed Index slumped to -56.6 from 12.7, compared with -32 expected. This is the lowest level in four decades. 

Nations making plans to get back to work

Meanwhile, Germany released plans to get the economy started again giving a lift to share prices in both Europe and the US. Stocks were mixed overnight, as markets weighed new news. Wall Street Close: US benchmarks propped-up on nation’s plans to open economies

“German hairdressing salons will be allowed to reopen on 4 May if they take special steps to guarantee customers’ hygiene. Shops of up to 800 square metres in size, as well as bookshops, bike stores and car dealerships, will open again from this coming Monday,” the Guardian reports. 

“Social distancing measures will remain in place until 3 May and large cultural events, such as concerts and beer festivals, will remain banned until the end of August.”

Switzerland will also start to reopen over three stages, starting April 27. As for Japan, the state of emergency was extended to cover the whole country. Abe is also looking to secure funds to extend proposed cash handouts.

Reuters reports that parts of President Donald Trump’s guidelines for re-opening the US economy amid the coronavirus pandemic trickled out on Thursday afternoon, revealing a three-phase plan that could allow some states to begin as early as this month lifting limits meant to contain the disease’s spread.

  • Trump tells state governors they will ‘call the shots’ when it comes to reopening the US economy 

COVID-19 cure in the making?

Some good news also came at the end of the Wall Street session which sent futures higher in Asia: S&P 500 ETF jumping 2% on report Gilead drug showing effectiveness treating coronavirus

However, it is still early days and more time and studies will need to be concluded: Gilead: Expect data from phase-3 study available end of April

Meanwhile, and on a rather more sour note, however, China’s economy is set for the first contraction since 1976 as COVID-19 rips up Beijing’s grand plan. A reminder that the global economy is in tatters which should remain supportive to the surplus rich nation’s currency, the Japanese yen. 

China’s headline economic growth rate has, up to now, been extremely stable in every quarter over the last five years by fluctuating within a narrow range between 6 and 7 per cent.

But the first quarter of 2020 has become a guessing game for economists, with predictions ranging from a deep contraction of 16 per cent to a modest expansion of 3.6 per cent, according to the results of a survey of analysts’ forecasts by Bloomberg.

The generally accepted view, as indicated by the median estimate from the survey for a fall of 6 per cent, means that China will report an official economic contraction in the first three months of the year,

– South China Morning Post

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