Fear of coronavirus second wave stalks stock markets
May 13, 2020 @ 11:42 +03:00
Global stocks and oil prices fell on Wednesday as fears about a second wave of coronavirus infections gripped financial markets. Investors, many facing steep losses due to the pandemic-driven shakeout in assets over the past few months, have also had to contend with renewed U.S.-China trade tensions.
MSCI’s index of global shares was down 0.3%. The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 1.6%. Banks acted as the drag after a number of negative updates.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan erased an early decline and rose 0.3%. U.S. stock futures, the S&P 500 e-minis, reversed earlier gains to fall 0.2%.
Oil markets, which have plummeted this year due to a combination of a collapse in demand and a supply glut, lost further ground.
Treasury yields also inched lower amid caution before a speech by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and rising speculation the United States could one day adopt negative interest rates.
Leading U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci on Tuesday warned lawmakers that a premature lifting of lockdowns could lead to additional outbreaks of the deadly coronavirus, which has killed 80,000 Americans and brought the economy to its knees.
The mood was further soured by proposed legislation by a leading U.S. Republican senator that would authorize President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China if it fails to give a full account of events leading to the coronavirus outbreak.
Stock markets have rebounded sharply in recent weeks as the spread of the novel coronavirus slowed in some countries in Asia and Europe, while parts of the U.S. economy and Europe began to reopen after weeks of lockdowns. However, some investors worry that a rush to re-open factories and shops may be premature.
The New Zealand dollar slumped to a six-month low after the country’s central bank doubled its quantitative easing programme and said it has asked commercial banks to be ready for negative interest rates by year’s end.
The U.S. dollar nursed losses as traders braced for Powell’s speech, which will cover economic issues and may offer hints on whether negative rates are a viable policy option.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes traded at 0.6606%. The two-year yield stood at 0.1629%, above a record low of 0.1050% hit on Friday.
Oil futures fell as worries about the virus overcame hope that output cuts would put a floor under prices. U.S. crude fell 1.6% to $25.36 a barrel. Brent crude fell 2.6% to $29.19 per barrel.
Fear of coronavirus second wave stalks stock markets, Reuters, May 13