Asian markets sink again as virus, stimulus, election fan fears
HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets tumbled Thursday following another sharp sell-off on Wall Street as investors were bombarded by a perfect storm of problems including rising virus infections, new lockdowns, a slowing economic recovery, stalled US stimulus talks and election uncertainty.
Months of mind-boggling gains in global equities have come to a juddering halt this month, with expectations that the wall of cash from governments and central banks would jumpstart a rebound quickly fading.
“Markets are digesting and grappling with this idea that the growth expectations that investors have might not materialise,” said Lauren Goodwin, at New York Life Investments.
“As the fiscal impulse in the US starts to wane, some of these expectations for a slow and steady recovery are shaken.”
And with the northern hemisphere now moving into autumn and winter, there are worries that a second wave of coronavirus will see the reimposition of strict, economically devastating containment measures.
France became the latest European country to act, shutting bars and restaurants in the second-biggest city Marseille and putting it on “maximum alert”, while several others including Paris will see new restrictions, including limitations on public gatherings and earlier closing hours for bars.
Britain’s government has also shortened opening hours and has warned of other measures while the Madrid region has locked down roughly 850,000 people and plans to extend the measures.
The International Labour Organization found that by mid-year, global working hours had declined 17.3 percent from December — equivalent to nearly 500 million full-time jobs, which its chief Guy Ryder called “catastrophic”.
US traders are now growing concerned that rising infections at home could see similar moves, and several Federal Reserve officials including boss Jerome Powell have called for a new stimulus to mitigate the impact.
But with politicians on Capitol Hill still at a standstill, hope for a deal is waning, particularly with a presidential election just around the corner.
“A procession of US Federal Reserve speakers voiced more concerns about the ongoing impasse on additional fiscal stimulus,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.