Asian shares retreat as coronavirus comeback hits risk appetite
Australian and Japanese stocks fall on concerns of a global recovery
Tokyo/New York — Asian stocks gave up early gains and fell on Friday, as a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Europe and the US hurt risk appetite.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.22%. US stock futures also eased 0.12%.
Shares in China initially rose as investors snapped up banking shares due to an improving earnings outlook, but the broader market surrendered those gains and fell 0.55%.
Australian stocks fell 0.72%. Japanese stocks shed 0.49% and South Korean shares lost 0.98%.
Oil futures extended declines in Asian trade as another round of lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus threatens to further weaken global energy demand.
Euro Stoxx 50 futures were up 0.5%, German DAX futures rose 0.47%, and FTSE futures gained 0.6%.
US President Donald Trump’s offer on Thursday to raise the size of a fiscal stimulus package to win the support of Republicans and Democrats helped narrow Wall Street's losses, though many investors still believe a deal is unlikely before the November 3 election.
“There’s a bit of worry there and also at what we’re seeing in America and in Europe regarding the virus and how it seems to be taking hold pretty significantly again,” said Grant Williamson, investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch, New Zealand.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.07%, the S&P 500 0.15% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.47%.
An unexpected rise in US weekly jobless claims figures added to worries about a sputtering world economy, especially in the face of a spike in Covid-19 cases in Europe.
The dollar index stood at 93.819, close to a two-week high as signs of a stalling US economy drove safe-harbour flows into the greenback.
The one currency that the dollar fell against was the yen, which strengthened 0.22% to 105.24/$ given the Japanese currency is also seen as a haven.
The euro was unchanged at $1.1704, while a firmer US dollar dragged on sterling, which was last trading at $1.2893, down 0.17% on the day.
Spot gold fell 0.22% to $1,904.53/oz.
The coronavirus outbreak originated in China in 2019 but Beijing’s aggressive efforts to control the virus mean its economy is recovering faster than other major countries, which suggests an improvement in corporate earnings.
Hong Kong shares in Semiconductor International Manufacturing Corporation rose 0.81% on Friday after China’s top chipmaker raised revenue and gross margin forecasts for the third quarter.
In contrast, many European countries have resumed lockdowns, and London will enter a tighter Covid-19 lockdown from midnight on Friday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to tackle a swiftly accelerating second coronavirus wave.
The EU put the onus on Britain to compromise on their new economic partnership or stand ready for trade disruptions in less than 80 days, another negative for sterling.
The Australian dollar fell 0.3% vs the greenback at $0.7075, hurt by a decline in commodities.
Oil prices were weighed by concerns about the coronavirus and its impact on the world economy. Brent crude futures fell 1.11% to $42.68 a barrel, while US crude futures slipped 1.1% to $40.51 a barrel.
Traders’ preference for safety helped government bonds. The yield on US Treasuries benchmark 10-year notes eased to 0.7289%, while the two-year yield held at 0.1390%.
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