Asian Shares Cling to Yields but Coronavirus Keeps Equities in Volatile Territory

Asian shares held on to gains Wednesday, helped by a bounce in Australian stocks; however, dangers for equities remain large as the coronavirus pandemic batters the underpinnings of the global economy.

Asian Shares Cling to Yields but Coronavirus Keeps Equities in Volatile Territory

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 floated 1.39% lower in Asian trade, marking the cautious temper.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific outside Japan surged 0.23%. Australian shares leaped by 2.87%, reversing a 2% drop on Tuesday, as a downturn in new coronavirus infections and rising iron ore prices lifted the market.

Shares in China, where the coronavirus first emerged, edged 0.18%, supported by hopes the world’s second-largest economy has begun to recover.

China’s factory data improved in March after slumping a month earlier, a private survey confirmed Wednesday, just scraping into positive territory and topping analysts’ expectations.

Shares in South Korea also struck hard by the novel coronavirus, surged 0.19%; however, Japanese shares dropped 1.05% as a rapid increase in coronavirus cases in Tokyo fueled speculation the government will place the city on lockdown.

Wall Street tumbled Tuesday, with the Dow registering its greatest quarterly dip since 1987 and the S&P 500 posting its severe quarterly drop since a decade ago on rising evidence of the massive slowdown the pandemic will incur.

U.S. economic activity is probably “very bad,” and the unemployment rate may rise above 10% because of the attempts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, said Loretta Mester, President of Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank.