World shares slip as global rally looses steam

A woman walks past an electronic board showing world currency exchange rates at a securities firm in Tokyo Monday, March 2, 2020. Share prices have charged back from their retreat last week, with mainland Chinese indexes gaining 3% as data showed progress in restoring factory output after weeks of disruptions from the viral outbreak. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BANGKOK (AP) — World shares were mostly lower and U.S. futures slipped Thursday as worries over fresh outbreaks of coronavirus infections in the U.S. and elsewhere gnawed at hopes for a fast recovery from pandemic shutdowns.

European benchmarks lost ground, with Germany’s DAX down less than 0.1% at 12,378.96 while the CAC 40 in Paris gave up 0.4% to 4,975.46. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.3% to 6,233.35.

U.S. futures augured further losses, with the contracts for the S&P 500 future and the Dow industrials both down 0.2%.

After weeks of trending upward, shares have retreated as rising numbers of cases in many places around the world have raise concern that even if governments don’t reimpose restrictions to curb coronavirus outbreaks businesses and consumers might refrain from spending much.

“Many countries are far better prepared for a second wave, which could spare them drastic measures such as a complete lockdown,” said Milan Cutkovic, a market analyst at AxiCorp.

“However, even a partial lockdown could have a catastrophic effect on the struggling economies of many countries across the globe,” he said.

Given these realities, investors are recognizing that volatility may be the markets’ only certainty in coming months.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 shed 0.5% to 22,355.46 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.1% lower, to 24,355.46. South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.4% to 2,133.48.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.1% to 2,939.32 after the central bank reportedly conducted market operations to inject cash ahead of mid-year settlements.

India’s Sensex jumped 1.2% and shares also rose in Taiwan but fell in Southeast Asia.

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 0.9% to 5,936.50 after the government reported worse-than-expected unemployment figures.

Some 228,000 jobs were lost for a total of 835,000 jobs lost in two months’ time, officials said.

“These are devastating unemployment numbers, they reveal the true pain and hurt that Australians are going through as a result of the coronavirus,” said the Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

“These are not just numbers. These are our friends, family members, workmates and neighbors,” he said.

The jobless data just added to the gloom, said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda. Eratic moves by North Korea and antagonisms between China and India in Kashmir have added to the unease.

“Covid-19 fears in Beijing and parts of the United States and geopolitical concerns in Asia continue to weigh on sentiment,” he said.

Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com’s stock jumped nearly 6% on its debut in Hong Kong on Thursday after the firm raised $3.9 billion in a share sale. But it ended trading down 3.5%.

JD.com is already listed on Nasdaq in New York.

Overnight, the S&P 500 dipped 0.4% to break a three-day winning streak, closing at 3,113.49. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6% to 26,119.61, while the Nasdaq composite edged 0.1% higher, to 9,910.53.

Stocks of smaller companies fared worse, as is typical when investors are apprehensive about the economy. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks fell 1.8%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury was steady at 0.72%. It tends to move with investors’ expectations for the economy and inflation.

A barrel of U.S. crude oil for delivery in July slipped 2 cents to $37.94 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gave up 42 cents to settle at $37.96 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 13 cents to $40.84 per barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar bought 107.05 Japanese yen, up from 106.97 yen on Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.1234 from $1.1243.