World stock markets fell on Thursday, while bonds and the dollar held on to hefty gains, after a coronavirus-driven plunge in U.S. retail sales and factory production and increasing gloomy economic outlooks for Asia.
U.S. retail sales fell the most on record last month, while manufacturing output fell by the most in 74 years, raising fears of a deep recession.
In Asia, growth will grind to zero for the first time in 60 years in 2020, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday, as exporters are pounded by slumping demand and anti-virus measures force consumers to stay home and shops to shut down.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6%. In Japan, where a Reuters survey showed most firms feel stimulus measures announced so far are insufficient, the Nikkei fell 1.3%.
E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were 0.3% lower following a 2.2% drop on Wall Street overnight.
The relatively modest drop shows some level of optimism about a brisk re-start, he said, but added: “The problem is, no-one knows how long this will go for.”
Benchmark indexes in Australia, Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai also posted falls between 0.3% and 1.5%. China is expected to report on Friday that the health crisis likely knocked its economy into its first decline on record.
The dollar rose against most major currencies and the yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries held at 0.6348%, near the week-low hit on Wednesday.
Oil prices, a barometer of global growth, crept from overnight lows but remained weak as poor demand outweighs support from a record output cut agreed last weekend.
West Texas Intermediate crude rose 60 cents a barrel or 3% from its lowest close since 2002 to $20.46, and Brent crude rose 80 cents to $28.50 a barrel.