North American equity markets advanced in a holiday-shortened week in Canada as investors continued to digest second quarter earnings reports and management outlooks for the balance of the year. This week will be remembered for the horrifying explosion that devastated Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, on Tuesday. Our thoughts are with the victims of this terrible accident at this time, as the population of a country already suffering from mass coronavirus outbreaks, and a subsequently weakened economy, adds recovering from this tragic event to the list of challenges they must currently face.
The coronavirus continues to dominate headlines, and many countries continue to be plagued by outbreaks and challenges. Regions such as Southeast Asia, Central and South America, Africa, Russia and India remain hotspots with elevated new cases, while many other regions, including locations in Europe, Australia, and Japan, are dealing with the emergence of new infection waves
The U.S. is a country that we have been following closely amid worryingly high numbers of new cases in recent months. Positively, there is strong evidence that the number of new cases appears to be plateauing, with signs of decline in many of the hardest hit regions, while the number of hospitalizations across the U.S. are also trending lower.
Across North America, a notable conversation is on reopening schools in September. In Canada there is a strong focus on determining safety protocols to enable a return to class for students of all ages. Decisions will be made on a regional basis, but the discussion is widespread. While a return to school is being advocated for in some circles, and would be considered a positive step towards economic recovery, unsurprisingly there remains a great deal of concern amongst many teachers, parents and students.
Globally, good news continued to roll in around vaccine development and procurement, with many countries, including Canada, taking steps to enter into agreements with pharmaceutical companies to secure vaccines once they become available. In Canada specifically, a Vaccine Task Force has been created to advise the government on multiple matters including how best to support vaccine research and development in our country, and to review and recommend viable vaccine candidates.
Canadian GDP rebounded smartly in May, rising a better-than-forecasted 4.5% compared to April, led by gains in the manufacturing sector as well as retail trade and public sector industries. Contextually, however, we must remember that this rebound is off of the economically crippling months of March and April that were marked by large shutdowns. The May GDP number is still 15% below the pre-pandemic level it was at in February, suggesting that as a whole, there is a still a lot of ground to be recovered. Other May data that showed improvement included retail sales, wholesale trade, and home sales.
Last week on the RBC “Markets in Motion” podcast, Lori Calvasina discussed her thoughts on the 2020 Presidential Election in the US, and specifically how investors should be positioned for a Biden win. She’s put together a sector playbook based on the policy leanings of the Biden campaign and her July survey of RBC Capital Markets’ research analysts. She also discusses why Biden’s proposed increase in the corporate tax rate is a key challenge for the stock market. Finally, she discusses why she views the election as a mild, negative catalyst for US equities in the second half of 2020 and risks to her view.
On the latest “RBC Disruptors” podcast, John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO, spoke with Alex Lazarow, a Winnipeg-born former banker and McKinsey consultant who lives in Silicon Valley and works with Cathay Innovation, investing in technology companies globally. During the podcast, Lazarow makes five critical points about innovation in the 2020s: It’s more distributed than ever, Ideas are global, Hiring ‘A’ talent isn’t the same as building ‘A’ teams, Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things” motto doesn’t necessarily work in other, non-software sectors, and Venture capital is due for a refresh.
For today’s tip, Interest in mindfulness and meditation apps is growing amid the pandemic. Here are some tips and resources for those interested in giving meditation a try.
Enjoy the warm weather and have a great weekend!