Global shares mostly lower as coronavirus cases surge

TOKYO (AP) – Global shares were mixed yesterday following another rally on Wall Street, tempered by fears over surging coronavirus cases in various parts of the world.

France’s CAC 40 slid 1.7 per cent in early trading to 4,932.43, while Germany’s DAX dropped 1.9 per cent to 12,290.29. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 1.9 per cent at 6,202.33. United States (US) shares were set to start lower with Dow futures down 0.9 per cent at 25,785.5 and S&P 500 futures 0.8 per cent lower, at 3,094.12.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was little changed, inching down less than 0.1 per cent to finish at 22,534.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.2 per cent to 5,965.70. South Korea’s Kospi added 1.4 per cent to 2,161.51. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.5 per cent to 24,781.58, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.3 per cent to 2,979.55. India’s Sensex lost 0.6 per cent and shares fell in Bangkok and Singapore.

Analysts are warning that, despite recent market rallies, there is little reassurance infections won’t keep spreading, given the growing numbers in some parts of the US, Brazil and Asia.

Senior Economist for ING Prakash Sapal said the focus is slowly shifting back to the COVID-19 pandemic from optimism about a rebound from loosening lockdown restrictions.

A woman walks past an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. PHOTO: AP

“The recent acceleration in infections has rekindled concern that governments will be forced to shut down their economies once again, squandering the chance for the much-hoped-for economic bounce back,” he said in a report.

Investors have been focussed on the prospects for an economic recovery as more businesses reopen after being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Encouraging economic data, including retail sales and hiring, have helped stoke optimism that the recession will be relatively short-lived.

The market has continued to climb, despite bouts of volatility, even as rising new coronvairus cases in the US and other countries cloud prospects for an economic turnaround as the pandemic marches on. New coronavirus cases in the US have surged to their highest level in two months and are now back to where they were at the height of the outbreak.

Worldwide, more than 9.2 million people are confirmed to have contracted the virus, including more than 477,000 who have died, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. It is thought to understate the actual numbers because of limits to testing and numerous asymptomatic cases. Investors are closely watching economic data for signs of recovery from the worst global downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Further updates on the US economy are expected toward the end of this week, when the government will issue data on consumer spending, weekly unemployment aid applications and durable goods orders.

In energy trading, benchmark US crude oil slipped 46 cents to USD39.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell nine cents to USD40.37 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 33 cents to USD42.30.

The dollar inched up to JPY106.54 from JPY106.53 on Tuesday. The euro cost USD1.1293, down from USD1.1307.