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Stocks Drop, U.S. Futures Down on Virus Worries: Markets Wrap

While the structural issues South Africa is facing may limit the potential upside, investors should remember that not all JSE-listed companies are affected to the same extent, says Abax Investments. (Image: Adobestock)

Asian stocks dropped after a tumble on Wall Street, where worries about a surge in virus cases in multiple U.S. states spurred a flight from riskier assets. The dollar extended gains.

Japanese, Australian and Korean shares were all down more than 1%. China and Hong Kong are closed for holidays. Futures on the S&P 500 dipped, while Treasuries edged up. The risk-off moves followed daily records for new cases in Florida and California, with Texas also suffering. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are requiring visitors from virus hot spots to self-quarantine. Crude oil prices fell below $38 a barrel in New York.
All three major U.S. equity gauges close lower for the second time this month

Market sentiment is rapidly turning more negative on concern that the spreading coronavirus could force policy makers to slow the pace or reverse business re-openings. At the same time, there’s the potential for trade tensions to resurface between the European Union and the U.S.

“Clearly the market really got the shivers over the prospect of a big increase in Covid and maybe starting to see places that were opening up have to close up, pressing the economy and lowering the prospects for the stock market,” Margie Patel, portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management, said on Bloomberg TV. “We’ve had such a great run from the end of March it’s only inevitable that we should get at least a little step back on the way to higher prices over the course of the year.”

The White House is weighing new tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from France, Germany, Spain and the U.K. The U.S. Trade Representative wants to impose new tariffs on European exports like olives, beer, gin and trucks, while increasing duties on products including aircrafts, cheese and yogurt, according to a notice published late Tuesday evening. The EU is also debating whether to keep the door shut to American travelers this summer.

Elsewhere, the International Monetary Fund downgraded its outlook for the world economy, projecting a significantly deeper recession and slower recovery than it anticipated just two months ago. Crude oil retained Wednesday’s losses.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • U.S. jobless claims, durable goods and GDP data are due Thursday.
  • A rebalance of Russell indexes is due on Friday.

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Futures on the S&P 500 dipped 0.5% as of 11:48 a.m. in Tokyo. The index fell 2.6% on Wednesday.
  • Japan’s Topix index declined 1.2%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.8%.
  • South Korea’s Kospi was down 1.7%.

Currencies

  • The yen was at 107.19 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan traded at 7.0815 per dollar.
  • The euro bought $1.1244, little changed.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2%.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell about one basis point to 0.67%.
  • Australian 10-year yields fell about four basis points to 0.88%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.7% at $37.75 a barrel.
  • Gold was at $1,760 an ounce.
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