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US warnings about China are lies, Foreign Minister Wang says

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi makes a speech during the 56th Munich Security Conference at Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany on February 15, 2020.

Abdulhamid Hosbas | Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

MUNICH — China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that U.S. criticisms of Beijing were “lies” and blamed Washington for the tumultuous relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

“The root cause of all these problems and issues is that the U.S. does not want to see rapid development and rejuvenation of China, still less would they want to accept the success of a socialist country, but that is not fair, China has the right to develop,” Wang said during a discussion at the Munich Security Conference.

“China’s drive towards modernization is an inevitable trend of history and will not be held back or stopped by any force in the world because it represents the direction of human progress,” he added.

Wang’s comments at the Munich Security Conference followed those of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, both delivering back-to-back speeches accusing China of malign activities.

“China encroaches on the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia. And on that point, China has had a border or maritime dispute with nearly every nation bordering it,” Pompeo told an audience at the security forum. “And let’s talk for a second about the other realm, cybersecurity. Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies are Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence,” he added.

Esper said Beijing was caring out a “nefarious strategy” through telecommunications firm Huawei. “It is essential that we as an international community wake up to the challenges presented by Chinese manipulation of the long-standing international rules-based order,” he warned.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper speaks at Munich Security Conference on February 15, 2020.

Munich Security Conference | Kuhlmann

When asked about the speeches made by Pompeo and Esper, Wang dismissed U.S. criticisms and said that Beijing would continue to seek a better relationship with Washington.

“This has become a common scenario, they say basically the same thing everywhere they go about China, and I don’t want to waste our time responding to each and every thing they’ve said. The thing I want to say is that all these accusations against China are lies and not based on facts,” Wang said of Pompeo and Esper’s comments.

“The most important task for China and the U.S. is to sit down together, have a serious dialogue and find a way for two major countries with different social systems to live in harmony and interact in peace. China is ready and we hope the U.S. will work with us in the same direction,” he added.

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Australia stocks jump 3%; China to release manufacturing PMI numbers

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Stocks in Asia Pacific traded higher on Tuesday morning ahead of the release of China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for March, expected at 9:00 a.m. HK/SIN.

Australian shares led gains in the region’s major markets, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 3.17%. The moves came after the index got off to a flying start to the week and surged by 7% on Monday.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi also rose 1.63% while the Kosdaq index gained 2.58%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 saw more muted gains as it added 0.51%, while the Topix index advanced 0.13%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.76% higher.

Investors will be watching for the release of China’s official manufacturing PMI for March on Tuesday morning. The data could offer clues to the scale of economic impact from the coronavirus outbreak in China, where the disease was first reported.

“We expect the official manufacturing PMI to rebound from 35.7pt in February to 45pt in March,” Joseph Capurso, senior currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note. “That would be above the GFC‑low of 38.8pt reached in November 2008,” he said referring to the Global Financial Crisis.

PMI readings below 50 signify a contraction, while figures above that level indicate an expansion.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 690.70 points to close at 22,327.48 while the S&P 500 added 3.4% to end its trading day at 2,626.65. The Nasdaq Composite also closed 3.6% higher at 7,774.15.

Oil prices attempted to rebound from the previous day’s plunge in the morning of Asian trading hours on Tuesday. International benchmark Brent crude futures gained 1.19% to $23.03 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were also up 2.84% to $20.66 per barrel.

The moves came after oil prices plummeted Monday to levels not seen in almost two decades — Brent fell 8.7% to settle at $22.76 per barrel, a price last seen in 2002. U.S. crude fell 6.6%, or $1.42, to settle at $20.09, its lowest level since February 2002.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 99.221, below levels above 100 seen last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.04 per dollar after touching an earlier high of 107.72. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6167, still above levels below $0.6 seen last week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap in the trading day ahead:

  • China: Official manufacturing PMI and non-manufacturing PMI for March at 9:00 a.m. HK/SIN

⁠— CNBC’s Pippa Stevens contributed to this report.

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Global cases continue to climb

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This is a live blog. Please check back for updates.

  • Global cases: More than 782,300
  • Global deaths: At least 37,582
  • Top 5 countries: United States (161,807), Italy (101,739), Spain (87,956), China (82,198), and Germany (66,885)

The data above was compiled by Johns Hopkins University as of 7:42 a.m. Beijing time.

All times below are in Beijing time.

7:19 am: US cases surpass 160,000

The total number of reported cases of coronavirus infection in the United States was at least 161,807, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Among them, at least 2,978 have died and just over 5,500 people have recovered in the country, the data revealed.

Global cases continued their upward trend, standing at least 782,319 reported instances of infection worldwide, according to JHU. The data also showed the worldwide death toll stood at more than 37,500 as countries continued to implement stricter social distancing measures in an effort to slow the virus’ spread. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

7:10 am: Italy has more than 100,000 cases but says new infections have slowed

In one of the worst-hit countries in the global pandemic, Italy’s health ministry reported that as of 6 p.m. local time on March 30, there were at least 101,739 total cases of infection among its 60 million citizens. But the ministry said the rate of new cases declined; though Reuters reported that could also be due to fewer COVID-19 tests being conducted. 

At least 11,591 people died and about 14,620 have recovered from the illness. 

A woman prays during the Sunday Holy Mass celebrated by priests from the roof of the church San Gabriele dell’Addolorata in Rome on March 29, 2020, amid the spread of the COVID-19 (new coronavirus) pandemic.

Tiziana Fabi | AFP | Getty Images

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told El Pais newspaper that Italy was “in the most acute phase” of the outbreak and that it was reasonable to believe that the peak was near. But, concerns remain about another surge in the number of cases in the coming days. For its part, Italy is set to extend its nationwide lockdown measures at least until the Easter season, Reuters reported. — Saheli Roy Choudhury

All times below are in Eastern time.

6:41 pm: Department of Defense watchdog appointed inspector general for $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package

The Defense Department’s internal watchdog will serve as newly named chair of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a body created to oversee the roughly $2 trillion stimulus deal that President Donald Trump signed into law last week in response to the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus outbreak.

Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense, was appointed by another committee of IGs assigned by the new law to name a chair. 

Fine will oversee a board of fellow inspectors general, all responsible for monitoring their respective departments. They include the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, as well as the Treasury, the Small Business Administration and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. — Lauren Hirsch

6:35 pm: Airbnb extends coronavirus cancellation window to May 31, sets aside $250 million to pay hosts for missed stays

Airbnb announced it will allow guests to receive full refunds for any trips starting on or before May 31 that were booked prior to March 14, as the company continues to struggle through the coronavirus’ impact on the travel industry. The company will also set aside $250 million to pay hosts for the missed bookings.

Airbnb announced the decision in a letter sent to hosts in an effort to rebuild Airbnb’s relationship with its partners. Previously, the company had said that it would allow guests to cancel and receive full refunds for trips between March 14 and April 14.

That decision overrode many hosts’ existing cancellation policies that ensured they still received partial payments for those bookings. Many hosts harshly criticized Airbnb for that decision, and several told CNBC that they would be moving their properties onto other websites and into the long-term rental market. — Sal Rodriguez

6:27 pm: Field hospital goes up in New York City’s Central Park

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Stock futures rise, extending rebound from coronavirus sell-off

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Stock futures climbed slightly higher in overnight trading on Monday, continuing the market’s rebound from its deep rout triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose about 70 points. The S&P 500 futures also traded 10 points higher.

The overnight action followed a strong session on Wall Street, with the Dow jumping nearly 700 points led by an 8% pop in Johnson & Johnson after it announced a vaccine candidate for the coronavirus. The S&P 500 rallied 3.4%.

Investors embraced a more realistic government approach to contain the pandemic. President Donald Trump extended the timeline for social distancing guidelines to April 30, which many believe will reduce economic damage in the long run. 

“I think the market has established some type of bottom,” Tom Lee, head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors, said on CNBC’s Special on Monday. “I don’t know if this is October ’08 here; We still have some wood to chop.”

Stocks have managed to rally on concerning economic data including last week’s record number of jobless claims and Monday’s worse-than-expected manufacturing reading from the Dallas Fed, Lee noted.

“If we are rallying on bad news, I think that’s a sign that we are probably at a bottom,” Lee said.

Stocks also built on last week’s historic rally, where the Dow and S&P 500 posted their best three-day win streaks since the 1930s. With Monday’s gains, the Dow is now up 20% from its coronavirus sell-off low reached on March 23 while the S&P 500 has risen more than 17% from those levels. 

Still, the consensus on Wall Street calls for more selling before the market can hit a bottom. Historically, Bear markets are often punctuated by sharp bounces on their way down to a trough. 

“Last week’s double-digit gain for markets was a welcome relief rally, though market bottoms are rarely as clean as this one has been,” said Mark Hackett, Nationwide’s chief of investment research. “Markets will need to reflect more traditional interactions before confidence in a bottom can be reached.”

Investors continued to grapple with the worsening outbreak in the U.S. as the confirmed cases rose to more than 153,200, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has also officially become the country most affected. Trump said Sunday he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.

“We anticipate that market volatility will resist until liquidity, credit, and health risks have demonstrably passed,” said Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. “With major policy stimulus now in place in the U.S., we expect grim health and social news to dominate the next couple of weeks.”

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