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Fresh lockdown fears rattle markets

(ATF) Hong Kong: Financial markets extended losses on Thursday as the spectre of rising virus cases in developed economies spooked investors. 

France and Germany are bracing for fresh lockdown restrictions while Britain is struggling to avoid a second national lockdown.

“Market sentiment is turning, with investors buffeted by US election uncertainty and now economic worries from rising Covid-19 cases across Europe, sparking concerns that measures to control the virus will hamper economic activity,” Kerry Craig, a Global Market Strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, said. 

“These short-term forces are well beyond the control of individual investors, underscoring the need to maintain balance through the immediate uncertainty, but investors should stay focused on the longer-term economic recovery, which still looks solid.”

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged down 0.37%, Australia’s S&P ASX 200 tumbled 1.61%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index retreated 0.49%. But Mainland China’s CSI300 added 0.75%. Regionally, the MSCI Asia Pacific index eased 0.32%.

The central bank of the world’s third largest economy, Japan, kept rates on hold but cut its growth forecasts for the current year, triggering speculation that a massive stimulus is in the offing.

The Bank of Japan now expects GDP to contract 5.5% in the current year to March 2021, down from -4.7% expected earlier. But it upgraded its estimates for the next two years to 3.6% and 1.36% from the earlier 3.3% and 1.5% respectively.

“The Bank is likely to stay on hold through 2021 and will focus on micro-level policies such as OMOs and/or loans to support the economy and overall financial conditions,” HSBC’s chief economist on Japan and Korea James Lee said.

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Asia Stocks

· Japan’s Nikkei 225 index edged down 0.37%

· Australia’s S&P ASX 200 tumbled 1.61% 

· Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index retreated 0.49%

· China’s CSI300 added 0.75%

· The MSCI Asia Pacific index eased 0.32%.

Stock of the day

Wind turbine generator manufacturer Xinjiang Goldwind surged as much as 10.5% after it announced operating cash flows had more than quadrupled for the nine months to September mainly on account of improved sales.  

Umesh Desai

Umesh Desai is the Executive Editor at Asia Financial. Prior to this he spent over two decades with Reuters News as Asia Pacific Chief Correspondent in Hong Kong and Bureau Chief in Bombay. Before becoming a journalist Umesh was a credit ratings analyst with Moody's arm in India - ICRA. A chartered accountant by training, Umesh began his career as an equity analyst. His Twitter handle is @umesh_desai


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