May Investment Bulletin

Bill Norris
May 07, 2020

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

April Key Drivers 

  • As one would expect, the trajectory of global equity markets tends to be highly correlated with data flow and news on the spread of COVID-19. When a more optimistic view on treatment and containment became evident in April, global markets rallied strongly with the S&P 500 rallying by more than 12%, while bond yields remained flat.
  • With the economic impact of the virus starting to emerge, Congress and the Federal Reserve were quick to act, pushing through emergency legislation to help support individuals and small to mid-size businesses that have been hurt by the shutdown of the U.S. economy. Since the pandemic emerged in late February, the total size of both fiscal and monetary policy stimulus is greater than twice the size of stimulus created during the 2008 financial crisis.
  • As progress continued to be made in the medical field, investors became more optimistic that the shutdown of the global economy might be shorter than anticipated. Positive signs on testing, potential treatments and the rush to create a vaccine helped to boost markets in April.
  • The initial report of Q1 U.S. gross domestic product showed a decline of nearly 5% on an annualized basis.

What to Watch in May 

  • As the global economy begins to emerge from the shutdown, investors will be watching closely how countries such as Italy, Spain and the U.S. manage reopening. The risk of another breakout could lead to additional closures, but there is reason for optimism as more and more U.S. governors begin to implement plans to reopen.
  • Although we know that the economic impact to the global economy is going to be severe, we started seeing signs of just how bad in April with consumer sentiment, business sentiment and the labor market all getting hit hard. On May 8, we will get our first view into the number of lost jobs in the U.S. when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the April labor report. Estimates are wide-ranging, but the Bloomberg consensus estimate is for the U.S. unemployment rate to spike to over 16%, with more than 20 million jobs lost in April.
  • Earnings reports for Q1 continue, and in early May, we will see reports from industries such as entertainment, hospitality and auto manufacturing. As of early May, analysts are forecasting profits to contract by more than 18% in 2020 in the U.S. according to FactSet. More than 160 companies reporting so far have suspended their outlook for 2020.

Global Asset Class Total Returns Through 04.30.2020

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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