April Investment Bulletin

Bill Norris
April 06, 2020

Stay current on what’s happening in the economy to help you better understand how the financial news relates to your investments.

March key drivers

  • In what continues to feel like a bad movie, the beginning of the spread of COVID-19 in late February carried into March, and the virus was the single biggest driver of financial markets around the world. Volatility spiked, global equity markets sank, and the realization that we are probably in a shock-induced recession became top of mind for investors.
  • The global spread of the virus and subsequent lockdowns of entire economies has most analysts wondering how deep the contraction in global output will be in the first and second quarters. The late March spike of over three million individuals filing initial unemployment claims in the U.S. is likely a preview of what is to come.
  • The Federal Reserve was quick to step up and provide stability to credit markets in the form of rate cuts, bond purchases, swap lines and funding facilities.
  • Companies around the world have begun to assess the impact of the virus on their operations. Retail, manufacturing and most (if not all) service industries have been hit hard, prompting many companies in the U.S. to stop issuing forward earnings guidance until there is clarity on how long the virus will force the economic shutdown.

What to watch in April

  • The key to reaching the point of stability starts with the daily data on the spread of the virus in Europe and the U.S. We will need to see a steady decline in the daily number of new cases reported as well as a drop in the reproduction number (RO) measure, which is a measurement of the average number of people an existing patient will infect. These numbers have been declining in China and South Korea, and markets there have stabilized.
  • The implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) will begin in April. The U.S. government’s $2 trillion aid package is intended to provide immediate support to individuals, small businesses, and state and local governments in an effort to mitigate the economic impact in the U.S. It is a complex program that will need to be carefully implemented. Failure to promptly provide support from the bill could prolong the economic damage.
  • Economic data released in April will begin to show how damaging the virus has been on the global economy. Every data point, from consumer and business sentiment to employment data, will be scrutinized for clues as to the depth and length of the economic impact.


Global Asset Class Total Returns Through 03.31.2020

Global Asset Class Total Returns Through 03.31.2020


Bill Norris is chief investment officer and head of asset management for CIBC Bank USA. In this role, he oversees investment management, trust and estate services to individual and institutional clients of CIBC Bank USA. Bill also serves as a member of CIBC Private Wealth Management’s Asset Allocation Committee with more than 35 years of industry experience.


CIBC Private Wealth Management includes CIBC National Trust Company (a limited-purpose national trust company), CIBC Delaware Trust Company (a Delaware limited-purpose trust company), CIBC Private Wealth Advisors, Inc. (a registered investment adviser)—all of which are wholly owned subsidiaries of CIBC Private Wealth Group, LLC—and the private wealth division of CIBC Bank USA. All of these entities are wholly owned subsidiaries of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

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