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Helsinki stock market recovers beyond expectations

Many listed companies seem to have withstood the coronavirus crisis better than previously thought.

Helsingin pörssitalo.
File photo of Helsinki Stock Exchange. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

The Helsinki Stock Exchange has made a better than expected recovery from the coronavirus crisis, despite rising unemployment and forecasts the Finnish economy will shrink by several percent this year.

In March, the Helsinki market dropped seven percent from the February peak as the coronavirus pandemic took effect, but has now returned to pre-crisis levels.

The endurance of Finnish companies during the crisis has come as a positive surprise, according to Risto Murto, CEO of pension company Varma.

"Although this has been a unique and fast-paced crisis that is plaguing us globally, large Finnish industrial companies are still in good shape in terms of results and, above all, balance sheets. There is no need to speculate whether a particular company is going bankrupt or not," Murto said.

Article continues after photo.

Risto Murto, Varman toimitusjohtaja
Risto Murro, CEO of pension company Varma, believes the worst financial disasters have been avoided. Image: Thomas Hagström / Yle
One main reason for the strong stock market recovery is the huge sums the European Central Bank and EU member states have invested to keep the threat of a longer recession at bay, Murto added.

"For example, decisions made at the EU summit have ensured that the probability of falling into a ten-year recession was reduced," Murto said. "The belief is that one day this coronavirus crisis will be over and life will continue."

Investor sentiment improving

The fact that the crisis did not come as hard a blow to Finnish companies as first feared suggests investors have strong confidence in the future, S-Bank's chief strategist Lippo Suominen told Yle.

"Companies involved in e-commerce, digitalisation and data have continued to make strong profits," Suominen said.

Many Finnish listed companies have already announced their results from a difficult spring, due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis, but Suominen said things are still better than expected.

"Those results are generally not good, but we have come down. But when expectations were even lower, these have clearly beaten them and that has been enough to stimulate the market sentiment," Suominen explained.

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