Fresh harbingers of recession

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The US stock markets shifted to a recovery mode on Wednesday after an aggressive pre-Christmas sell-off. S&P 500 gained by nearly 5%, with most sectors turned green. However, the rebound was more like a dead cat bounce and a sign that the selling was overdone rather than an improvement in investor sentiment. By the way, risk trends looked less robust in Asia on Thursday, while the European stock markets opened mixed amid a tepid risk sentiment and failed to follow up from the gains posted in Wall Street.

This is partly due to fresh signs of the potential slowing growth globally. In particular, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's manufacturing gauge fell by a record, to -8, missing all estimates projecting an increase to 15. This was due to weakening in new orders and shipments – another sign that the trade war with China is starting to hurt the US economy. By the way, it is the fourth regional bank factory index that reflected a drop in Decem-ber.

In another sign of the impending recession, China published another bearish report. In November, the industrial profit dropped for the first time in three years. The rate declined by 1.8 y/y versus -3.6% in the previous month. The fall in profits reflects slowing growth in producer prices and sales along with rising costs. Moreover, the earnings are expected to contract further in 2019 amid the cooling demand.

As such, markets have fresh evidence that the global economy is losing its momentum. As long as such sig-nals continue to emerge, investor sentiment will remain fragile and will hardly recover substantially.