SINGAPORE. — Asia’s stock markets retreated from their highest levels for a month and the dollar extended gains on Thursday as the damage the coronavirus has wrought on the world economy soured appetite for risk.
Data showed US retail sales fell the most on record last month and manufacturing output fell by the most in 74 years, raising fears of a deep recession. Another sky high figure is expected when US weekly jobless claims land later in the day.
E-mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 fell half a percent in Asia after a 2,2 percent drop on the index on Wednesday and European futures were marginally lower.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost about 1 percent, wiping out early week gains that had taken the index to its best level since mid-March.
“Markets seem to have run out of good news to trade off,” said Kyle Rodda, analyst at IG Markets in Melbourne.
“They are still effectively betting on the global economy springing out of this in an energetic fashion, but the challenge is that no-one can give with any level of certainty what the future is going to be like.”
The risk-sensitive Australian dollar fell to a one-week low and oil prices struggled to rise against the expectation of cratering demand.
US crude CLc1 sat at $19,90 per barrel, 70 cents above an 18-year low hit on Wednesday, and Brent crude LCOc1 rose 28 cents or 1 percent in Asian trade to $27,92 per barrel.
The International Monetary Fund is predicting zero growth in Asia this year for the first time in 60 years, as exporters are pounded by slumping demand and anti-virus measures force consumers to stay home and shops to shut down.
China is expected to report on Friday that the health crisis likely knocked its economy into its first decline on record.
In Japan, where a Reuters survey showed most firms feel stimulus measures announced so far were insufficient, the Nikkei fell 1,3 percent.
Benchmark indexes in Australia , Hong Kong and Shanghai also posted falls between 0,4 percent and 1,3 percent and emerging markets fell harder.
“A recovery timeline . . . remains impossible to predict,” said Ronald Lam, chief customer officer at airline Cathay Pacific, which has slashed nearly all its passenger capacity and lost a fifth of its value this year. — Reuters.