World shares, US futures decline on vaccine, virus worries

BANGKOK (AP) – World shares were lower yesterday, as investors grew wary over the recent surge in coronavirus cases in many places while vaccination efforts are making scant headway.

Shares fell in London, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai. United States (US) futures also slipped.

The declines followed a strong end last week on Wall Street, where gains in technology and health cares stocks pushed the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average to fresh record highs.

A moderation in bond yields has helped restore confidence that the Federal Reserve will move soon to raise interest rates to keep inflation in check as the economy recovers from the shocks of the pandemic.

Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.6 per cent to 6,872.56. Germany’s DAX edged 0.1 per cent lower to 15,220.38 and the CAC 40 in Paris gave up 0.3 per cent to 6,153.79. The future contracts for the S&P 500 and Dow industrials were 0.3 per cent lower.

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

In Asia, a resurgence of infections and troubles with COVID-19 vaccines are undermining confidence that vaccinations will soon bring an end to the lockdowns and miseries brought on by the new coronavirus.

China’s top disease control official said during the weekend that the effectiveness of Chinese coronavirus vaccines was low and the government is considering mixing them to get a boost. It was a rare admission and comes as the country continues to battle outbreaks of the virus that first was reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Japan is struggling to get infections under control as it prepares to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Thai health officials are warning the daily rate of new infections could top 28,000 if urgent measures are not taken to counter the country’s worst outbreak so far.

“The vaccine rollout remains slow in Asia, but what is more concerning is a renewed divergence in virus caseloads, with second waves taking hold in India, the Philippines and now Thailand,” Stephen Innes of Axi said in a report. That “continues to sully the global travel outlook,” he said.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 0.8 per cent to 29,538.73 and South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.1 per cent higher to 3,135.59. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 0.9 per cent to 28,453.28. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gave up 0.3 per cent to 6,974.00 and the Shanghai Composite index sank 1.1 per cent to 3,412.95.

India’s Sensex dropped 3.4 per cent to 47,906.75. The country’s coronavirus outbreaks have come roaring back, outpacing progress in inoculating its 1.4 billion people.