Highlights from May 2020 – Oil has best month ever; COVID-19 impact on employment; U.S. corporate earnings; First Quarter (Q1) GDP readings; Stocks continue rebound

Oil has best month ever

In April, oil prices briefly went negative. May was a different story with WTI Crude, the U.S. oil benchmark, registering its best month ever after gaining 88.38%. Record supply cuts and an uptick in demand pushed prices higher.

WTI Crude January to May 2020

COVID-19 impact on employment

As the impact of lockdowns on back of COVID-19 became apparent, U.S. unemployment soared from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April (numbers were only reported in May).

US unemployment April 2020

Meanwhile, the impact was much lesser in the European Union (EU). The unemployment rate in the EU was only up marginally to 6.6% in April (up from 6.4% in March). In the Eurozone, the unemployment rate was up to 7.3% in March (up from 7.1% in March).

European Union EU unemployment April 2020
Source: Eurostat


U.S. Corporate Earnings

U.S. Corporate earnings reported in May for Q1 2020 were down 8.8%. Not too bad given the impact of the COVID-19, Q2 will likely be much worse though …

US Corporate Profits up to Q1 2020


Q1 2020 GDP readings

Q1 GDP readings were reported during the month. U.S. Q1 2020 contracted 5% QoQ (vs Q4 2019) but grew YoY (vs Q1 2019).

US Q1 2020 GDP quarter on quarter change US Q1 2020 GDP Year on Year change


The European Union Q1 2020 GDP contracted 3.3% (QoQ) and 2.6% (YoY). France (-5.8% QoQ), Spain (-5.2% QoQ) and Italy (-4.7% QoQ) were the most impacted economies in EU. Sweden output fell QoQ (-0.3%) but grew YoY (+0.5%) despite not locking down the economy like other European Union member states. Germany, the largest European economy contracted 2.2% QoQ.

Eurozone European Union EU Q1 2020 GDP growth
Source: Eurostat

UK Q1 2020 GDP contracted 2% (QoQ) and 1.6% (YoY).

Read More: U.S. Q1 2020 GDP contracts 5% (QoQ) but grows 2.1% (YoY) as COVID-19 hits economic activity

European Union Q1 2020 GDP contracts by 3.3% (QoQ) and contracts 2.6% (YoY); Euro Area or Eurozone Q1 2020 GDP contracts by 3.8% (QoQ) and contracts 3.2% (YoY); France, Spain and Italy see largest falls

UK Q1 2020 GDP contracts by 2% (QoQ) and contracts 1.6% (YoY); Services, Production and Construction all contract; Household consumption falls the most since 2008


Stocks continue rebound

Stocks continued their upward trajectory. Japan led the way with the TOPIX up 6.8% during the month. U.S. indices are set to record all-time highs (despite the pandemic). The S&P 500 was up 4.6% during the month (just 10% off its all-time high set in February and up 39% from its March low). The Dow was up 4.2% during the month and the Nasdaq gained 6.7% during May (just 2% away from its all-time high). Europe ex UK was up 4.4%, UK was up 3.4% and Emerging Markets were about flat. Stock markets seem to be immune to pandemics …

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