The U.S. stock markets are closed on Friday, April 10, for Good Friday.
That sets up a short week and a long weekend–which would be likely to produce higher than normal volume and volatility on Thursday anyway as traders and investors bought and sold to position themselves for the uncertainty of three days without being able to trade in New York.
But this week, the long weekend is likely to be wilder than usual.
First, the Department of Labor will announce new numbers for initial claims for unemployment on Thursday morning. Last week saw new claims rocket to 6.5 million, a new record that blew the previous week’s record of 2.31 million (revised) out of the water. Economists are projecting that new claims will jump to 7.5 million or more. (I’m in the “or more” camp myself given all lags and glitches that led to serious under-reporting last week.) And the markets will have only hours to react to the numbers before trading shuts down for the long weekend.
Second, oil, oil, oil–and oil meetings. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and OPEC+ countries such as Russia are scheduled to meet by video at 4 p.m. Vienna time (10 a.m. New York time) on Thursday April 9 to sign a new agreement–or not–to curb oil production. The odds are that oil producers will shut down their terminals with a deal. The next day, Friday, brings another virtual meeting, this time of G-2o energy ministers. Canada, Brazil, and the United States will say if they will contribute to cuts in production to reduce the global oversupply of oil. The meeting is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Riyadh time (or 8 a.m. New York time) And is expected to run for about 2.5 hours. Both Saudi Arabia and Russia are insisting that U.S. producers contribute to the reduction in production. Given the fragmented nature of the U.S. oil shale sector and President Donald Trump’s reluctance to make an agreement on a production cut, getting a formal commitment from the United States will be difficult. But the Saudis and the Russians might be willing to accept a de facto cut in U.S. output: Today, Tuesday April 7, the U.S. Energy Information Administration cut its forecast for U.S. oil production by almost 10% to an average of 11.8 million barrels a day this year because lower oil prices have led to significant shut-downs of U.S. wells. In any case, U.S. markets will have only hours on Thursday to react to the OPEC meeting and no chance at all to react on Friday with markets closed to the Friday meeting. Good luck on positioning for that. My best guesstimate is that the two meetings will produce an agreement to cut production. But I certainly wouldn’t say I’m certain of that outcome. Any bets are highly speculative at this point. Which doesn’t make them uninteresting. I’m looking at Call Options, a bet that the meetings will be successful and oil prices will head higher, on U.S oil shale producers Concho Resources (CXO), Parsley Energy (PE), and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD).
And, third, all this “stuff” is taking place just before the start of first quarter earnings season with reports from JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) starting the season off before the New York open on Tuesday, April 14.
Did I mention the uncertain–but hopeful–trend in coronavirus cases in Italy, Spain, and New York?