June 30, 2020 / 7:59 AM / in 15 days

Daily Briefing: Turning points

LONDON (Reuters) - The end of H1, the end of a quarter, the end of a month - all of them pretty extraordinary with plenty of milestones and records, providing investors with lots to chew over as they prepare to see whether the second half of the year can bring a return to some form of ordinary.

A computer screen is reflected in the glass window of a booth where a broker is monitoring the market in the halls of the Pakistan Stock Exchange, a day after an attack in Karachi, June 30, 2020. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Global stocks - up around 18% this quarter - look determined to put in a sprint finish with Europe following Asia higher though U.S. stock futures signal declines on Wall Street later.

Safe-haven bond yields are coming down a touch, the dollar is holding firm, oil prices are slipping on demand woes and gold is flirting with an eight-year high as markets take note of what is going on in the world outside.

And there is plenty to choose from.

China's parliament passed the national security legislation for Hong Kong, setting the stage for the most radical changes to the former British colony's way of life since it returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago and pushing Beijing further along a collision course with the U.S. and other Western governments.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, in a glimpse of prepared remarks for a key congressional testimony later, warned the outlook for the world's largest economy is "extraordinarily uncertain" and much depended on bringing the coronavirus under control, signalling more monetary stimulus may be necessary.

Infection numbers make for grim reading in the United States. California and Texas both marked record spikes in new COVID-19 cases while Los Angeles reported an "alarming" one-day surge in America's second-largest city that put it over 100,000 cases.

Medical workers prepare to intubate a patient at the United Memorial Medical Center's coronavirus disease intensive care unit in Houston, Texas, June 29, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O'Hare

German Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed her push for the bloc's COVID-19 rescue fund and held out hope fellow EU member states will overcome differences at the July summit.

Data from China gives some reason for cheer with factory activity expanding at a stronger pace than expected in June, though the breakdown also shows export orders and jobs continue to contract. Meanwhile Japan industrial production fell for a fourth straight month in May as the economy slumps deeper into recession.

UK data shows Britain's economy shrank by the most since 1979 between January and March as households slashed their spending. This comes ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson setting out his plan to spend the British economy out of its coronavirus-induced crisis, promising to fast-track 5 billion pounds($6.1 billion) of infrastructure investment.

In Europe, bourses in Frankfurt and Paris jump around 0.5% at open while London also edges up.

In corporate news, Royal Dutch Shell said it would write down the value of its assets by up to $22 billion after lowering its long-term outlook on oil and gas prices.

Standard Life Aberdeen announces Keith Skeoch is to stand down as chief executive after five years at the helm with former Citigroup executive Stephen Bird replacing him. German lender Commerzbank considers 7,000 more redundancies.

Wirecard shares jump 63% as its regional arms look to sketch out ways ahead. The central bank in Singapore - home to the Asia-Pacific headquarters of the scandal-ridden German payments company - said Wirecard's local entities were assessing their ability to continue providing services. Meanwhile the firm's U.S. entity said it had put itself up for sale.

In M&A news, Australia's Infigen backs a revised Iberdrola takeover offer and Alaskan officials approve BP's sale of oil leases to Hilcorp as part of a previously announced $5.6 billion deal.

($1 = 0.8153 pounds)

— A look at the day ahead from chief emerging markets correspondent Karin Strohecker. The views expressed are her own —

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