Asian Markets Mixed Amid Recession Fears

Asian stock markets are mixed on Wednesday as investor sentiment was dampened after the International Monetary Fund or IMF warned that the global economy could see the worst recession since the Great Depression due to the coronavirus pandemic and the containment measures adopted to slow the outbreak.

The IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report that the world GDP is set to contract 3 percent this year, thanks to the lockdowns imposed by countries across the world. In a January update to the WEO, the IMF had predicted 3.3 percent global growth this year.

The Australian slipped into negative territory after opening higher following the overnight rally on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 22.70 points or 0.41 percent to 5,465.40, after rising to a high of 5,533.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 20.10 points or 0.36 percent to 5,522.40. Australian stocks closed notably higher on Tuesday.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Santos is falling almost 4 percent, Woodside Petroleum is lower by more than 3 percent and Oil Search is losing almost 3 percent after crude oil prices fell more than 10 percent overnight.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is adding 0.5 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are down 0.5 percent each.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is advancing almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is down 0.2 percent after safe-haven gold prices rose for a fourth straight session overnight.

Bubs Australia reported its highest quarterly gross revenue as sales in China more than doubled in the quarter ended March 31 from the year-ago period. The baby formula producer’s shares are gaining more than 8 percent.

In economic news, Australia will see April results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac Bank today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6433, up from $0.6410 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is declining despite the overnight rally on Wall Street, while the safe-haven yen strengthened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 69.24 points or 0.35 percent to 19,569.57, after touching a low of 19,465.95 in early trades. Japanese shares rose more than 3 percent on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Canon is adding 0.4 percent and Sony is edging up 0.1 percent, while Panasonic is losing 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.7 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is higher by almost 2 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 2 percent and Toyota is declining more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is losing more than 5 percent and Inpex is lower by more than 3 percent after crude oil prices fell more than 10 percent overnight.

Among the major gainers, Recruit Holdings is rising more than 4 percent, while Fujitsu and Toho Co. are higher by almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Toyo Seikan is losing almost 5 percent, FamilyMart is lower by more than 5 percent and Hino Motors is declining almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Indonesia and Hong Kong are also lower.

New Zealand is rising more than 2 percent on stimulus optimism, while Taiwan is advancing more than 1 percent, Malaysia is higher and Singapore is edging up. The South Korean market is closed as the country heads to the polls for parliamentary elections.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied on Tuesday to the best closing levels in over a month as traders continued to express optimism about signs of a flattening of the coronavirus curve. In a press briefing on Monday, President Donald Trump defended his administration’s response to the pandemic and indicated he is working on plans to re-open the country. Encouraging exports data out of China also helped ease fears of the pandemic resulting in a deep global recession.

The Nasdaq spiked 323.32 points or 4 percent to 8,515.74, while the Dow jumped 558.99 points or 2.4 percent to 23,949.76 and the S&P 500 surged up 84.43 points or 3.1 percent to 2,846.06.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent and the German DAX Index shot up by 1.3 percent.

Crude oil prices plummeted on Tuesday as mounting concerns about a drop in energy demand due to the virus pandemic outweighed planned output cuts from OPEC and its allies. WTI crude for May fell $2.30 or 10.3 percent at $20.11 a barrel.

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