Global stocks decline on virus worries

BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks fell yesterday after Wall Street declined and European governments extended anti-coronavirus lockdowns, clouding the outlook for economic recovery.

London, Shanghai and Tokyo retreated. Frankfurt was little-changed. United States (US) futures were modestly higher.

Overnight, Wall Street gave up most of the previous day’s gains as technology, industrial and bank stocks fell.

Investor confidence was shaken after Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and the Netherlands extended lockdowns and imposed new travel and business curbs in response to spikes in infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the weekly global death toll from the virus is rising again following six weeks of declines. It said the number of new reported cases rose in four of six global regions.

“Investors were left scrambling for life jackets, as it seems we are back navigating the stormy sea of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report.

People walk past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AP

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.4 per cent to 6,670.55 while Frankfurt’s DAX was up less than 0.1 per cent at 14,662.02. The CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.4 per cent to 5,945.30.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.1 per cent and the contract for the Dow Jones Industrial Average future rose 0.2 per cent.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.8 per cent to 3,910.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9 per cent to 32,423.15.

The Nasdaq, dominated by tech stocks, sank 1.1 per cent to 13,227.70.

In Asia yesterday, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3 per cent to 3,367.63 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gave up two per cent to 28,405.52. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 2.2 per cent to 27,883.02.

The Kospi in South Korea retreated 0.3 per cent to 2,996.35. The S&P-ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.5 per cent to 6,778.80.

India’s Sensex lost 1.2 per cent to 49,443.18. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated.

Bond yields, or the difference between the market price and the payout at maturity, narrowed as prices rose. The yield of the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.62 per cent, down from last week’s level above 1.70 per cent.

That weighed on banks and other financial companies which look to yields as a benchmark for the interest rates they charge on mortgages and other loans. Bank of America fell 2.0 per cent and Wells Fargo dropped 1.9 per cent. American Express slid 2.8 per cent.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude rose 59 cents to USD58.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged USD3.79 on Tuesday to USD57.76 after Germany’s lockdown announcement triggered concern demand for industry and travel would decline.

Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 71 cents to USD61.57 per barrel in London. It lost USD3.83 the previous session to USD60.79.

The dollar declined to JPY108.53 from Tuesday’s JPY108.75. The euro retreated to EUR1.1821 from EUR1.1853.