Asian stocks were buffeted by their biggest drop in eight sessions today, as a rise in US coronavirus cases and warnings from the International Monetary Fund knocked investor confidence.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.7 per cent, Tokyo’s Nikkei slumped 1.1 per cent and Australia’s ASX 200 tumbled 2.1 per cent.
Ahead of markets opening this afternoon, US stock futures declined 0.4 per cent, suggesting yesterday’s stocks slide on Wall Street may continue today.
Three US states reported record numbers of new cases yesterday, while seven others hit new highs earlier this week. Confirmed cases of coronavirus also spiked in Australia, posting its biggest daily rise in infections in two months.
The worsening situation forced Disney to delay reopening its parks in California, while Texas is considering localised restrictions to deal with an outbreak.
In Europe, however, where strong data has supported risk appetite this week, futures were only marginally in the red.
German Dax futures were down 0.1 per cent and Eurostoxx 50 futures were off 0.3 per cent. FTSE futures in London fell 0.4 per cent.
The IMF said it is now expecting a deeper global recession, with output to shrink 4.9 per cent this year, up from a three per cent contraction predicted in April.
Trade concerns have also mounted, after the US yesterday added items valued at $3.1bn to a list of European goods eligible to be hit with import duties.
Anxiety is likely to remain heightened ahead of US data being released today, including jobless claims figures due at lunchtime, as well as the latest coronavirus numbers.
Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane is also due to speak about the future of society this afternoon. Haldane argued against the Monetary Policy Committee’s £100bn increase to the bank’s bond-buying programme last week.