Via Financial Times

Asia stocks steadied and US futures rose following the biggest sell-off on Wall Street in more than 30 years as investors pinned hopes on US stimulus to fight the impact of the coronavirus.

In early Asia trading on Tuesday, S&P 500 futures gained as much as 3.8 per cent following a report that the Trump administration had privately urged Senate Republicans to approve a bill to help the US deal with the economic fallout of the worsening pandemic.

Overnight, the S&P 500 plunged 12 per cent in its biggest one-day fall since ‘Black Monday’ in October 1987 as the US and other countries tightened restrictions on public activity.

Investors fear the spread of coronavirus, which has shut down swaths of the US and European economies, could cause a global recession. The plunge on Wall Street followed an unscheduled, 1-percentage-point rate cut by the Federal Reserve on Sunday intended to support financial markets. 

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 stock index added 3.2 per cent after falling by nearly 10 per cent on Monday. Japan’s Topix was 0.4 per cent higher after falling as much as 3 per cent in early morning trading. The CSI 300 benchmark of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks slipped 1 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng edged 0.4 per cent higher.

Traders in Tokyo said the push for stimulus from the White House was fuelling speculation that the US was now “one step closer” to the kind of stimulus package investors want to see.

The Japanese yen, a haven during times of market uncertainty, weakened 0.6 per cent to ¥106.42 per US dollar. 

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Investor appetite for riskier assets was also reflected in sovereign bond markets, with the 10-year US Treasury yield rising 7 basis points to 0.788 per cent. Yields rise as bond prices fall.

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, added 1.9 per cent to $30.62 a barrel after dipping below the $30 marker overnight for the first time in four years. The US marker, West Texas Intermediate, rose 3.9 per cent to $29.82. Oil prices have been crushed in recent weeks by fears the coronavirus outbreak will hit demand and by a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

But analysts warned that the worst was yet to come for the global economy. “We would discourage too much focus on potential recovery until the full dimensions of the unfolding slowdown become clearer,” said Richard Yetsenga, chief economist at ANZ.

He added that weakness in the US and European economies would weigh on any potential recovery in China, where the number of Covid-19 cases already appeared to have peaked. “Recession for many economies is unfortunately likely,” Mr Yetsenga said.

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