Asia stocks follow Wall Street down on renewed virus worries


BEIJING — Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower Wednesday after European governments extended anti-coronavirus lockdowns, clouding the outlook for economic recovery.

Market benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, and Hong Kong retreated.

Overnight, Wall Street gave up most of the previous day’s gains as technology, industrial and bank stocks fell. Investor confidence was shaken after Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, and the Netherlands extended lockdowns and imposed new travel and business curbs in response to spikes in infection. The World Health Organization said the weekly global death toll from the virus rises again following six weeks of declines. It said the number of newly reported cases rose in four of six global regions.

“Investors were left scrambling for life jackets, as it seems we are back navigating the stormy sea of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.2% to 3,369.78, and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo fell 2% to 28,405.52. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong retreated 2.1% to 27,905.54. The Kospi in South Korea gave up 0.3% to 2,996.35. The S&P-ASX 200 in Australia gained 0.5% to 6,778.80.

India’s Sensex opened down 1% at 49,502.30. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets retreated. In Europe, Germany extended anti-virus restrictions by three weeks to April 18 and said travelers arriving from abroad by air must be tested for the coronavirus before boarding their flight. The Netherlands extended its lockdown by three weeks.

That followed similar moves earlier by Italy and France.

Investors are wavering between optimism about coronavirus vaccines that might allow business and travel to return to normal and concern about the pace of recovery. Traders also are watching the potential for inflation pressures to pick up after struggling economies are flooded with credit and government spending. That has depressed U.S. bond prices, prompting some to shift money out of stocks. On Wall Street, the benchmark S&P 500 fell 0.8% on Tuesday to 3,910.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.9% to 32,423.15.


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