This week investors will get insights into how the American financial sector is withstanding the turmoil in markets and the economy when major U.S. banks led by JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs Group report quarterly earnings. Some blue-chip American companies including Johnson & Johnson are also scheduled to release results, offering a first look at the impact of social-distancing measures on corporate profits.
Almost 300 companies have withdrawn their financial guidance and about 175 companies have suspended stock buybacks or cut their dividend, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the biggest 1,500 public companies in the U.S. A record 17 million people have claimed unemployment benefits as the lockdown spurred a wave of layoffs and furloughs.
“We think markets are probably not prepared for the weakness in the data and, probably, the duration of the weakness in the data,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
Investors have also been concerned that a too-speedy end to lockdown measures in the U.S. and elsewhere may lead to a second wave of infections as calls for easing restrictions gain momentum. Some officials in President Trump’s administration have suggested reopening the U.S. economy by May 1 by allowing some business activity to resume.
The U.S. leads the world in number of confirmed cases, with more than 550,000 infections known, and fatalities of more than 21,700. Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 1.8 million on Sunday.
Still, some analysts have predicted the wild market swings of March may not return. “The extreme volatilities in the markets might be behind us,” said Homin Lee, Asia macro strategist at Lombard Odier in Hong Kong.