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Asia Pacific markets lower as 'coronavirus anxiety' dominates sentiment

Asia Pacific markets fell across the board Friday as investors remained cautious due to the growing number of coronavirus cases around the world.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.26% in late-afternoon trade. Reuters reported the city will suspend all schools from Monday following a recent spike in coronavirus cases.

Australia's benchmark ASX 200 ended the session down 0.61% at 5,919.20. The heavily-weighted financials subindex declined 0.72% while the energy subindex fell 1.98%. 

The Nikkei 225 in Japan dropped 1.06% to 22,290.81 while the Topix index fell 1.42% to 1,535.20. In South Korea, the Kospi index was down 0.81% at 2,150.25. 

Mainland Chinese markets also fell: The Shanghai composite was down 1.95% at 3,383.32, the Shenzhen composite was down 0.3% at 2,251 while the Shenzhen component was down 0.61% at 13,671.24. 

Friday's session followed a mixed overnight on Wall Street where coronavirus concerns pushed investors into tech stocks. 

"Coronavirus anxiety dominated market sentiment in a day where major economic releases were scarce," Kishti Sen, an economist at ANZ Research, wrote in a morning note about the overnight session. 

"That left the focus on the high frequency data and daily COVID-19 news," Sen said. 

Infection cases in the United States rose with California and Florida among 12 states hitting record-breaking, seven-day averages for daily new cases, a CNBC analysis showed. 

The World Health Organization said that though the virus, which has infected more than 12 million globally, can be brought under control, it's "getting worse" in most of the world. 

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of its peers, rose 0.23% to 96.922. 

The Japanese yen changed hands at 106.84 per dollar, strengthening from earlier levels around 107.26. The Australian dollar slipped 0.56%, trading at $0.6924. 

Oil prices fell Friday during Asian hours following more than 2% declines on Thursday. 

Global benchmark Brent traded down 1.61% at $41.67 while U.S. crude fell 1.89% to $38.87 a barrel. 

Vivek Dhar from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a morning note that a stronger U.S. dollar and concerns "linked directly to the spread and impact of COVID‑19 in the US," weighed on oil overnight. 

Source: Asia Pacific markets lower as 'coronavirus anxiety' dominates sentiment

COVID-19 Pandemic Lessons from Asia Pacific


Save the Children reveals new six-point plan for the Asia-Pacific region.

If Asia-Pacific countries are to emerge from today’s pandemic better equipped to deal with future shocks, a new ‘social contract’ is needed between governments and society that prioritises the welfare of all its people, including the most vulnerable households and children, international aid agency Save the Children said today.

Shaheen Chughtai, Asia Regional Advocacy & Campaigns Director, Save the Children, said:

“To address the global COVID-19 emergency, a whole-of-society approach is needed. The price of inaction and delay is the scale of human tragedy and economic upheaval the world is currently witnessing. We must either learn from history, or doom ourselves to repeat it. 

“It is crucial for Asia-Pacific governments, businesses and society to limit both the risk and impact of future pandemics, which studies show are becoming more frequent. They can do this by investing more in public health, shielding society’s most vulnerable families from the worst impacts of poverty, protecting children – especially girls – from violence, ensuring internet connectivity for all to strengthen education and livelihoods, using the pandemic recovery to address the climate emergency, and making peace efforts more inclusive and effective.

“For this ambitious agenda to succeed, it’s time for a new ‘social contract’ for the 21st Century between governments and society. This echoes the seismic shifts following the Great Depression and the Second World War when many governments expanded their responsibilities to support mass employment and public health as well as international cooperation and peace. The result was a healthier, more stable and prosperous world. We must seize similar opportunities in the current crisis.” 

According to the Asian Development Bank, the pandemic could cause the world economy to slump by more than six per cent of global gross domestic product – the worst recession since the 1930s Great Depression. The bank estimates up to 167 million job losses in the Asia-Pacific region – that’s a staggering 70 percent of global employment losses due to COVID-19.

In its report published today, Covid-19: Lessons from Asia Pacific, Save the Children lays out a six-point plan on what needs to change so the region is better prepared in a world facing multiple threats to health, peace and prosperity.

Save the Children calls on governments, politicians and activists in the Asia-Pacific to:

  • Prioritise adequately funded universal health coverage.

  • Expand social safety nets with universal cash benefits and services that reach families most in need. 

  • Support children at risk of violence, exploitation and abuse due in part to COVID-19.

  • Bridge the digital divide with internet connectivity for all to strengthen education and livelihoods. 

  • Build economic recovery on greener, more sustainable foundations.

  • Support more inclusive conflict prevention and peacebuilding. 

  • Spokespeople available in Dhaka, Bangkok and Singapore.

    Contact: +66 627 015 084 (Bangkok)

    Contact: +44 7467 09 67 88 (London)

    Out-of-hours: +44 7831 650 409 (London)

    Read the full report here.

    Source: COVID-19 Pandemic Lessons from Asia Pacific

    Asia-Pacific Indexes Up Across the Board Led by Gains in China

    The major Asia-Pacific stock indexes were higher on Thursday, led by fresh gains in China. European shares are also rising following a two-day setback. The price action indicates that investors are looking past simmering U.S.-China tensions and renewed coronavirus lockdowns to upcoming company earnings, hoping that global stimulus efforts will yield upbeat outlooks.

    On Thursday, the Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22529.29, up 90.64 or +0.40%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 26210.16, up 80.98 or +0.31% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2167.90, up 9.02 or +0.42%.

    China’s Shanghai Index settled at 3450.59, up 47.15 or +1.39% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index finished at 5955.50, up 35.20 or +0.59%.

    COVID-19 Update

    The number of cases in the U.S. surpassed the 3 million mark, according to Johns Hopkins University. As cases and deaths rise, data compiled by Apple Maps shows driving activity is slowing down across the country, which could be a warning sign for the economic comeback.

    Globally, more than 11.88 million people have been infected while at least 545,398 lives have been taken, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

    China Reports Inflation Data

    In fresh inflation data out of China early in the session, the country’s producer price index was down 3% year-on-year in June, compared to expectations for a 3.2% decline according to analysts polled by Reuters.

    The consumer price index, meanwhile, fell in line with Reuters-polled expectations, rising 2.5% year-on-year for the month.

    Australian Share Market Closes Higher

    The Australian share market closed higher, after shares in Afterpay led a rally among tech stocks, while mining and energy stocks also boosted the market.

    Mining and energy stocks led the broad-based rally. Technology shares surged, led by buy-now, pay-later operators Afterpay and Zip Co.

    Corporate News

    Rio Tinto said more than 2,000 jobs would go in New Zealand, as it announced plans to close its aluminum smelter in the country because of high power prices.

    Meanwhile, Afterpay shares hit a fresh record high above $75 following an upgrade from Morgan Stanley. Analysts there raised their price target on the stock to $101, saying the company’s latest earnings were much stronger than expected.

    For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

    This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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    Source: Asia-Pacific Indexes Up Across the Board Led by Gains in China

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