Oil and Asian stock markets extended losses Thursday as the speedy global spread of the coronavirus kept investors on the brim and seeking safety in gold and bonds.
Rising fears of a pandemic, which U.S. health agencies have warned is likely, had already consumed more than $3.6 trillion from global stock markets by Wednesday’s close.
China accounts for nearly 96% of cases and has instituted severe containment methods that have paralyzed global supply chains.
However, most new infections are now being recorded elsewhere, with the news Thursday of a leap in cases in South Korea accompanied by a notice that the virus may be spreading in California.
South Korea registered 334 new cases Thursday, its largest daily climb since its first case was confirmed on January 20. China recorded 433 new infections.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 0.5% and is down over 4% for the week.
A show of confidence from Prez Trump, who sought to play down the threats to the U.S. at a White House press conference, offered little solace to traders centered on the virus’ spread.
U.S. stock futures plunged as far as 1% as he spoke, while European stock futures dipped 2% in Asian trade, suggesting a possible catch-up fall in stocks.
Fresh record-low gains on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries overnight, and the morning’s firm demand for dollars, yen, and Swiss francs marked the fearful mood.
The only bright spot, satirically, was China’s stock market, which balanced in relief that domestically, at least, the epidemic seems to be under control.