Stock recover on signs of improving Trump’s health

MILAN (Reuters) – Stocks and other risk assets rose on Monday as signs that Donald Trump’s health was improving brought relief to markets after the uncertainty of his COVID-19 infection sent investors rushing for safety last week.

FILE PHOTO: The New York Stock Exchange is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., October 2, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The U.S. President, 74, was flown to a hospital for treatment on Friday, but his doctors said he had responded well and could return to the White House as soon as on Monday.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was up 0.4% by 0812 GMT, supported by overnight gains across Asia and a positive start in Europe.

The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX rose 0.7%. S&P 500 futures EScv1 rose 0.5% and Nasdaq futures NQc1 0.8%, indicating a similarly strong start on Wall Street later.

Overhanging the relief rally, however, were concerns that Trump’s case could be more severe than public disclosures suggest, and that more restrictive measures by governments to slow coronavirus infections could harm the economic recovery.

Some traders were concerned by doctors’ admission that Trump had been given supplementary oxygen and steroids.

“Many questions remain including the use of the steroid drug … which is usually reserved for those with severe illness,” said Raymond James strategist Chris Bailey in London. “Global cases now top 35 million and various new restrictions in Paris, New York, etc”,

A survey on Monday showed the euro zone’s economic recovery faltered last month as new restrictions sent its dominant service sector into reverse.

IHS Markit’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 50.4, just above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

Trump’s infection also comes less than one month before the presidential election on Nov. 3, potentially fuelling more market volatility and making the outcome of the vote even more difficult to predict.

“In terms of the impact on the election, we haven’t seen enough polling to assess whether this increases or decreases his chances of winning,” said Deutsche Bank strategists.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Sunday, Democrat contender Joe Biden opened his widest lead in a month in the U.S. presidential race.

The volatility VIX index .VIX, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, remained close to the one-week high it hit on Friday.

Meantime, suggestions Trump could leave hospital sent oil prices up more than 2%. An escalating workers’ strike in Norway that has shut four of Equinor’s oil and gas fields also helped drive the gains. [O/R]

Brent LCOc1 prices were up 2% at $40.1 a barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate CLc1 added 2.2% to $37.9 a barrel.

The dollar was little changed as investors awaited news about U.S. Trump’s health and developments in fiscal aid talks in Washington. [FRX/] The dollar index =USD was last down less than 0.1% on the day at 93.722.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasuries US10YT=RR rose to 0.7088% and the yield curve

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IHC scolds interior secretary over failure to recover Gondal

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered law enforcement agencies to ensure the return of missing Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Additional Joint Director Sajid Gondal by September 17.

The directives were issued by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah while hearing a case related to the missing SECP official. During the hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah berated the interior secretary, police and capital authorities after they failed to produce Gondal, who has been missing since last week. “Give court one example of [a case] in which missing citizen was recovered,” he asked. “Someone should accept responsibility for this,” he remarked, and asked Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar if the prime minister had been told ‘what is happening in the federal capital’. “I am sure you have not told the prime minister about this [case]. As soon as the prime minister gets to know about this, the state’s response would be different,” Justice Minallah said, adding that the court has ‘complete confidence’ in the prime minister.

The judge observed that the federal capital was only 1,400 square miles and this small area had its own inspector general of police and chief commissioner. He noted that the highest court of the country was also located within the federal capital. He asked the officials present whether they had any idea as to how many such cases were being heard by his court. He also wondered how the officials would react if a federal minister’s son had gone missing.

Khokhar tried to assure the court that a ‘high-level’ investigation was underway. “A first information report has been lodged and investigation has started,” he said. “You [should] accept your failure,” the judge remarked, adding that “everyone in the federal capital was feeling insecure”. He observed that the current situation was a product of ‘misgovernance’. “We are doing everything we can,” Khokar said. “Your efforts are not visible,” the judge said. “For the [past] three days, only meetings are being held, the SECP official could not be found,” he added.

Justice Minallah directed Khokhar to notify the federal cabinet about the matter. The interior secretary told the court that the prime minister will be informed and the matter will be placed before the federal cabinet in the next meeting. Justice Minallah said that there were reports that the commission for missing persons had taken notice of Gondal’s ‘abduction’. “Has it been established that this is a case of enforced disappearance that the commission took notice?” he asked. He inquired if the commission’s chairperson had found some information that indicated that this was a case of enforced disappearance, adding if the investigators have contacted the missing persons’ commission. “Is this a case of enforced disappearance?” the judge asked. “Nothing can be said about this right now,” Khokhar responded.

Justice Minallah said that the police’s investigation team should have contacted the chairperson of the commission to ask if the latter has some ‘personal information’. Khokhar urged the court to ‘let state departments do their job’.

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IHC chief justice berates interior secy on failure to recover SECP official Sajid Gondal – Pakistan

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Monday berated the interior secretary, police and capital authorities after they failed to produce Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Joint Director Sajid Gondal, who has been missing since last week.

IHC had directed authorities to recover Gondal, who had gone missing on Thursday night, by today. The court was hearing a petition filed by Gondal’s mother, seeking recovery of her son from “unknown” abductors.

During today’s proceedings, Justice Minallah noted that authorities had been unsuccessful in producing the SECP official before the court and said: “Give court one example of [a case] in which missing citizen was recovered.”

“Someone should accept responsibility for this,” the high court top judge remarked.

He asked interior secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar if the prime minister had been “told what is happening in the federal capital”.

“I am sure you have not told the prime minister about this [case]. As soon as the prime minister gets to know about this, the state’s response would be different,” Justice Minallah said, adding that the court had “complete confidence” in the prime minister.

Khokhar tried to assure the court that a “high-level” investigation was underway.

“A first information report has been lodged and investigation has started,” he said.

“You [should] accept your failure,” the judge remarked, adding that “everyone in the federal capital was feeling insecure”. He observed that the current situation was a product of “misgovernance”.

“We are doing everything we can,” Khokar said.

“Your efforts are not visible,” the judge said. “For the [past] three days, only meetings are being held, the SECP official could not be found.”

“How would you have acted if such a thing happened with a federal minister’s son?” Justice Minallah asked. He directed Khokhar to notify the federal cabinet about the matter. The interior secretary told the court that the prime minister will be informed and the matter will be placed before the federal cabinet in the next meeting.

Justice Minallah said that there were reports that the commission for missing persons had taken notice of Gondal’s “abduction”.

“Has it been established that this is a case of enforced disappearance that the commission took notice?” he asked. He inquired if the commission’s chairperson had found some information that indicated that this was a case of enforced disappearance, adding if the investigators have contacted the missing persons’ commission.

“Is this a case of enforced disappearance?” the judge asked.

“Nothing can be said about this right now,” Khokhar responded. Justice Minallah said that the police’s investigation team should have contacted the chairperson of the commission to ask if the latter has some “personal information”.

The judge also lamented that investigation officers were not properly trained and that there was not even a prosecution branch in Islamabad. What should a constitutional court do in such cases, he asked.

Khokhar urged the court to “let state departments do their job”.

Justice Minallah noted that the court was the “protector of people’s constitutional right” while adding

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