U.S. stock index futures rose on Thursday, along with yields on Treasuries after data showed jobless claims surged another 6.6 million last week and the Federal Reserve rolled out a broad $2.3 trillion effort to bolster local governments and small and mid-sized businesses.
The Fed said it would work through banks to offer 4-year loans to companies of up to 10,000 employees and directly buy the bonds of states and more populous counties and cities to help them respond to the health crisis.
In announcing what may prove its most groundbreaking step in the crisis fight, Fed chair Jerome Powell said the Fed’s role had now broadened beyond its usual focus in keeping markets “liquid” and functioning, to helping the United States get the economic and financial space it needs to fix a dire health emergency.
GARY POLLACK, MANAGING DIRECTOR FIXED-INCOME AT DEUTSCHE BANK PRIVATE WEALTH MANAGEMENT, NEW YORK
“This is a lifeline the Fed is throwing to the municipal bond market in an effort to help states and local governments. It’s more of a cash-flow help, I think, for them.”
“It’s not going to resolve all the issues for municipal governments, but it’s something, and at this point in time, something’s better than nothing.”
GUY LEBAS, CHIEF FIXED INCOME STRATEGIST, JANNEY MONTGOMERY SCOTT, PHILADELPHIA
“There’s a sink, a dishwasher and maybe a washing machine being thrown by the Fed at this point. This latest effort seems a little more focused on small business, expanding lending to main street and the paycheck protection program.”
“The more dynamic piece of the announcement is the muni liquidity facility, to offer quite a bit of liquidity to state and local governments. The $500 billion is quite material. The muni market has been a bit slower to bounce back compared to other fixed income markets and this is certainly going to accelerate that process.”
JACK ABLIN, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CRESSET CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, CHICAGO
“Having Jay Powell schedule a press conference at 10 am, an hour and a half after the claims number, suggested to me he needed to fight bad news with some good news. They are expanding, it sounded like to municipal, just to continue to ease liquidity concerns and ease some of the credit concerns, although they haven’t yet dipped into high yield.
“The problem is, of course, the Fed can only operate through capital market channels, and not as many small businesses, quite honestly, float that on Wall Street. We’ll have to see what Congress’ response is also.”
DANTE DEANTONIO, SENIOR ECONOMIST, MOODY’S ANALYTICS, NEW YORK
“Everyone expected this number. But we need to remember how historically unprecedented a number like this really is. We’re talking about (unemployment insurance) claims that are orders of magnitude higher than anything seen before. Just because we’re seen them three weeks in a row doesn’t somehow normalize the situation.
“This is going to culminate in the most historic job losses in very short order than we’ve ever seen before. We’re probably on pace to lose more jobs in April alone than we lost during the entire Great Recession. It’s important to keep reminding ourselves how unprecedented this is, even though it seems like everyone has become numbed to it after just three weeks of seeing these outrageously large numbers.”
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