Global Markets Sink After Fed Virus Warning

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Global markets and US stock futures declined Thursday after the Federal Reserve warned the coronavirus pandemic might threaten the modest economic recovery and kept interest rates near zero.

London and Frankfurt opened lower. Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong retreated after spending part of the day in positive territory.

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Lower interest rates and investor optimism about a possible coronavirus vaccine have helped global markets recover most of this year’s losses. But analysts say it might be too early to bet the recovery will persist, given the rising infection numbers in the United States, Brazil and other countries.

On Wednesday, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell warned that rising U.S. cases, which have led some state governments to reimpose anti-disease measures, threaten the modest recovery from the pandemic.

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The Fed said it would keep buying USD 120 billion of Treasury and mortgage bonds every month to encourage borrowing and spending, but Powell said Congress needs to take action. Legislators have yet to agree on aid after USD 600 in weekly unemployment benefits for millions of Americans run out this week.

Stephen Innes of AxiTrader Corp. said in a report –

The current situation is all about money in consumer pockets, which is precisely why fiscal policy is so much more important, – Stephen Innes

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London lost 1.4 per cent to 6,045.65 and Frankfurt’s DAX retreated 2% to 12,565.75. The CAC 40 in France declined 0.8 per cent to 4,917.54.

On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 1per cent lower.

On the S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent after the Fed’s rate announcement. The S&P 500, which was down 34 per cent earlier, is back within 3.8 per cent of its February record.

The Dow rose 0.6 per cent while the Nasdaq composite added 1.4 per cent.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent to 3,286.82 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gave up 0.3 per cent to 22,339.23.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong tumbled .07 per cent to 24,710.59 after data Wednesday showed the territory’s economy shrank by 9 per cent in the quarter ending in June.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 0.2 per cent to 2,267.01 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 added 0.7 per cent to 6,051.10. India’s Sensex shed 0.6 per cent to 37,847.47. New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Singapore and Bangkok retreated.

Also Thursday, Japan reported retail sales rose by a better-than-forecast 13.1 per cent in June over the previous month.

That means retail sales in one of the world’s biggest markets were only 0.9% lower than in February before the crisis hit, Tom Learmouth of Capital Economics said in a report.

In the United States, some companies are reporting quarterly results that exceed forecasts, though they still are well below pre-virus levels.

On Wednesday, Advanced Micro Devices rose 12.5 per cent after it reported stronger profit than Wall Street expected. Starbucks gained 3.7 per cent after it reported a loss that wasn’t as bad as analysts were expecting.

Eastman Kodak surged 318.1 per cent, gaining for a second day after the company won a USD 765 million government loan to launch a new business unit making pharmaceutical components. Shares rose to USD 33.20 from USD 2.62 on Monday.

Amazon added 1.1 per cent Wednesday, Apple rose 1.9 per cent, Facebook gained 1.4 per cent and the Class A shares of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, were up 1.3 per cent .

Gold rose to USD 1,953.50 per ounce from Wednesday’s USD 1,953.40.

Benchmark US crude lost 58 cents to USD 40.69 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 23 cents on Wednesday to USD 41.27. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 50 cents to USD 43.59 per barrel in London.

The U.S. dollar rose to 105.14 yen from 104.90 yen on Wednesday. The euro fell to USD 1.1734 from USD 1.1789. (AP)

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