(Bloomberg) — Stocks came under pressure in Asia and U.S. equity futures retreated after Japan reported two deaths from the coronavirus and cases in South Korea jumped, spurring concerns about the spread of the disease outside China.
Futures on the S&P 500 Index were down along with the after the Japanese report. The dollar rose against most Asian currencies, and held near the strongest against major counterparts since May 2017. Australia’s dollar reached its lowest against the greenback since the global financial crisis after a monthly jobs report underscored slack that may keep monetary policy easy. Treasuries edged up.
Japan’s earlier climbed as much as 1.2% after an overnight tumble in the yen boosted prospects for exporter earnings. The yen slumped past 111 per dollar with little immediate trigger; market participants ascribed a host of reasons, ranging from disappointing economic news to early positioning before the fiscal year-end next month. The currency Thursday took back a sliver of the biggest losses since August.
While the number of new coronavirus cases in China continues to come down — epicenter-province Hubei reported a steep drop Thursday, though that was tied at least in part to another change in methodology — those outside are sparking alarm. Japan, which has come under criticism for insufficient efforts to contain the disease, said two people from a quarantined ship have died.
“Over the next couple of months we are going to see very bad economic data coming out of China and the rest of the Asian markets,” Suresh Tantia, senior investment strategist at Credit Suisse (SIX:), told Bloomberg TV in Singapore. “Analysts are likely to revise down the earnings estimates. So, after this rebound, we don’t see much value in Asian markets.”
Elsewhere, oil gained as U.S. sanctions on Russia’s largest producer and conflict in Libya put the focus on supply threats.
Here are some key events coming up:
- Earnings season rolls on, with results from Deere & Co. set for Friday.
- Indonesia is expected to cut interest rates on Thursday, following emerging-market peers that have already moved.
- Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs are scheduled to meet Feb. 22-23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and are expected to discuss efforts to support growth amid the coronavirus threat.
These are the main moves in markets:
- Futures on the S&P 500 Index were down 0.1% as of 1:22 p.m. in Hong Kong. The benchmark reached another record high Wednesday.
- Japan’s Topix index rose 0.3%.
- Hong Kong’s declined 0.6%.
- rose 1%.
- South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.5%.
- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3%.
- fell 0.3%.
- The yen was flat at 111.36 per dollar after sliding about 1.4% on Wednesday.
- The offshore yuan fell 0.3% to 7.0321 per dollar.
- The euro was at $1.0797, little changed.
- The Dollar Index was at 99.680, after reaching its highest since May 2017 Wednesday.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries was at 1.56%, down one basis point.
- Australia’s 10-year yield slid four basis points to 1%.
- West Texas Intermediate crude advanced 0.5% to $53.54 a barrel.
- Gold dipped 0.2% to $1,609.37 an ounce.
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