TOKYO (AP) — Global stock markets turned lower on Wednesday amid fears over surging coronavirus cases in various parts of the world.
While economic data is pointing to a recovery from the spring lockdowns that are being eased in many countries, the rise in new contagions is raising concerns that limits might have to be reimposed in some cases on business activity and public life.
Wall Street is expected to slip on the open, with Dow futures down 0.8% and S%P 500 futures trading 0.7% lower. In Europe, France’s CAC 40 slid 1.6% to 4,935, while Germany’s DAX dropped 2% to 12,276. Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 2.2% at 6,182.
Earlier, in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 inched down less than 0.1% to finish at 22,534.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 picked up 0.2% to 5,965.70. South Korea’s Kospi added 1.4% to 2,161.51. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.5% to 24,781.58, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.3% to 2,979.55.
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 U.S., Brazil and Asia.
Prakash Sapal, senior economist for ING, said the focus is slowly shifting back to the COVID-19 pandemic from optimism about a rebound from loosening lockdown restrictions.
“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 recently been focused 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 had continued to climb in recent weeks, despite bouts of volatility, even as rising new coronvairus cases in the U.S. and other countries cloud prospects for an economic turnaround as the pandemic marches on.
New coronavirus cases in the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. crude oil slipped 77 cents to $39.60 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 9 cents to $40.37 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 64 cents to $42.09.
The dollar inched down to 106.51 Japanese yen from 106.53 yen on Tuesday. The euro cost $1.1300, down from $1.1307.