European stock markets are back in positive territory on Tuesday, following yet another chaotic start to the week.

While I’d like to think there’s something encouraging about this, I highly doubt there is. These are troubling times for markets and brief periods of reprieve should be welcomed but treated with caution. This will pass eventually but not when governments around the world are implementing draconian measures and crossing their fingers.

The market has been savaged these last few weeks but we’re no clearer on where we are and what the real cost will be. The old adage goes that markets hate uncertainty, I think they’d love a little uncertainty at this point. Investors are navigating the landscape blind and it’s fraught with danger.

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They’ll be encouraged from the response we’ve seen from the relevant authorities around the world but ultimately, what use are they if people are locked up at home and businesses have closed their doors. They’re treating the symptoms and waiting for the fever to pass. This feeling of helplessness is not what anyone is used to.

Oil enjoying reprieve as Brent tests $30

Oil is enjoying some welcome reprieve this morning and just in time. Brent crude has been flirting with $30 and even nipped below a few times on Monday, testing trader appetite for another potential dip. WTI took the plunge having already done so earlier this month but I can’t help but think that it could be more significant if Brent significantly breaks that threshold.

I’d like to say it won’t come today with oil prices up more than 3% already this morning but that’s not the world we live in. These markets are as wild as they get and that gain could turn into another double digit decline in a heartbeat. With sentiment as sensitive as it is, I wouldn’t be confident that it won’t.

It’s been a wild ride for gold

Gold is having a rough time of it at the moment, with equities swinging between huge losses and occasional bounces, both of which are proving problematic for the yellow metal. The result has seen it plummet almost 13% from its peak a little over a week ago and unless these markets take a breather, more pain could be in store.

Gold found some support on Monday around $1,450, which had been an important level throughout last year. Technical levels may only get us so far in these erratic times, but on this occasion it appears to have bought gold a little time. Ultimately, until the storm passes, gold isn’t looking great. Beyond that, in the near-term, it may come back into favour. But then it will have the economic and stock market bounce to contend with.

The parachute has opened after bitcoin free-fall

Bitcoin has fared even worse than gold in these troubling times. It seems that when times are good, there’s room for speculation in some of the more exciting and exotic markets, but when the tough times arrive, bitcoin falls down the pecking order, just behind toilet roll and dry pasta.

Having fallen below $4,000 last week from a peak above $10,000 just a month ago, the parachute appears to have opened and bitcoin prices have exited the free-fall phase. That will come as a relief but conditions are wild so the danger hasn’t passed. Enthusiasts will be hoping for a soft landing and soon.