Asia-Pacific markets downbeat as coronavirus infections reach 1 million and US weekly jobless claims hit 6.6 million

04-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Most Asia-Pacific stock markets slipped Friday, as sentiment turned downbeat on the coronavirus’ latest grim markers: US weekly jobless claims hit 6.6 million and the world reached 1 million virus infections.

Overnight, US stocks gained, particularly those connected to oil prices, as US President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet that he had gotten Russia and Saudi Arabia to agree to produce less. But scepticism has grown about whether the two oil giants actually are looking at ending their oil price war, which came at a fraught time when the world was dealing with a health crisis the likes of which it has never seen. Oil stocks slid in Hong Kong.

The virus continued its destructive path, with more than 52,000 dead around the world. About one-third of humankind is under lockdown due to the virus, which has upended supply chains and businesses, led to major job losses and shattered consumer buying habits.

The Hang Seng Index fell 0.6 as of the noon lunch break, as bars are set to close beginning Friday night for two weeks as part of the government’s social distancing rules.

HSBC is on track for its third day of declines after announcing it was cancelling its dividend. It fell 2.6 per cent in early trading.

The Shanghai Composite Index slid 0.3 per cent.

“Even if the market has seemingly hit a trough, equities rarely bounce back to their previous highs immediately. A medical breakthrough could cause that, but for investors to get back on board the rally bus, they will need to see falling case numbers, alongside an end in sight to mobility restrictions,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.

“We are entering a climate with lower or no dividends, fewer financial options, but most importantly, fewer jobs, lower output, and probably a lot fewer companies around the world. Many small and large-sized businesses will not survive this storm,” he said.

Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, markets were mostly downbeat in early trading.

South Korea’s Kospi Index, fell 0.1 per cent. The tech-heavy Kosdaq gained 0.3 per cent. A government report on Wednesday showed exports slipping more than expected by 0.2 per cent in March from a year earlier.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 reversed earlier gains and slipped 0.3 per cent. On Wednesday, it plunged 4.5 per cent after its worst quarter since 1987.

Japan will give 200,000 yen (US$1,850) to each eligible household over the coronavirus, Kyodo reported. prime minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that he will roll out a stimulus package next week to help the economy, which was already near a recession, Reuters reported.

Australia’s S&P/ASX200 extended morning losses, falling 1.3 per cent. The country’s stocks have been especially volatile as it faces its worst recession in 90 years.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX50 rose 0.2 per cent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 1.3 per cent.


Category: FinanceAsia

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