Global stocks mixed after Wall Street falls on virus worries

BEIJING (AP) — Global stock markets were mixed yesterday after Wall Street declined as hopes for a possible coronavirus vaccine were tempered by worries about the pandemic’s continuing impact.

London, Tokyo and Frankfurt retreated, while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced.
Traders have been encouraged by announcements of progress toward a possible vaccine. But growing infection numbers in the United States (US) and Europe raised the threat of renewed restrictions on business and movement.

“The reality of rising COVID-19 cases got hold of financial markets,” Mizuho Bank said in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.5 per cent to 6,332.47 and the DAX in Frankfurt shed 0.9 per cent to 6,365.33. The CAC 40 in Paris declined 0.6 per cent to 5,452.12.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and Dow Jones Industrial Average were off 0.2 per cent.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 fell 0.5 per cent after US retail sales growth fell to 0.3 per cent in October from September’s 1.6 per cent. The figure fell short of forecasts for 0.5 per cent growth.

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

That was “a warning shot that COVID-19 is still with us, and its effects will not miraculously disappear overnight”, Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a report.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent to 3,347.30 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.5 per cent to 26,544.29.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.1 per cent to 25,728.14 after October exports declined 0.2 per cent from a year earlier.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.3 per cent to 2,545.64 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.4 per cent to 6,531.10.

India’s Sensex gained 0.4 per cent to 44,127.85. New Zealand and Bangkok declined while other Southeast Asian markets advanced.

On Tuesday, the Dow fell 0.6 per cent while the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.2 per cent.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the American economy has a “long way to go” before it returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Powell warned the “next few months may be very challenging”. He said the Fed is committed to supporting a recovery.

Stocks that stormed higher this month on hopes that a vaccine or two may get the global economy back to normal next year receded.

Extra unemployment benefits that helped to support US consumer spending have expired. Progress on a possible new aid plan in Congress is slow.

“The concern is that people will lose confidence in efforts to control the pandemic,” Powell said. “We are seeing signs of that already.”

Tesla rose 8.2 per cent following an announcement that it will join the S&P 500 index next month. It is set to become one of the biggest stocks in the index after soaring nearly 390 per cent this year.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude rose 14 cents to USD41.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose nine cents on Tuesday to USD41.43. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, gained 25 cents to USD44.00 per barrel in London. It lost seven cents the previous session to USD43.75.

The dollar declined to JPY103.93 from Tuesday’s JPY104.21. The euro rose to USD1.1885
from USD1.1864.