Coronavirus News Asia

Asia Times Financial market digest


Asian markets are defensive this morning as oil prices retreated and investors turned watchful ahead of key central bank meetings and earnings announcements.

The focus is increasingly on the normalizing of business activity and reopening of economies as the growth of new infection cases and fatalities have declined in many countries. The coronavirus pandemic has now infected over 3 million people and killed more than 211,000 around the world.

“Central bank policy has moved from mostly alleviating the dysfunction of market pricing and tightening of financial conditions to ensuring credit flows to businesses and local governments,” BlackRock Investment said in a note.

“The Federal Reserve built on its ‘whatever it takes’ approach to helping the economy through the coronavirus shock and ensuring markets function properly. We could see its balance sheet more than double to $11 trillion by year end … Some actions are raising questions about whether they may undermine the independence of central banks.”

Next up, the European Central Bank will set its policy on Thursday and markets will be keen to see if there is a further pledge to raise its asset purchase programme after it agreed last week to accept junk bonds as collateral for bank loans.

The Federal Reserve meeting is scheduled for April 28-29 and although it is not expected to move on interest rates, financial markets will look for clues about how long rates will remain at these low levels and related asset purchase programmes.

The Nikkei 225 is down 0.62%, the Korean Kospi benchmark is flat and the ASX 200 has retreated 0.5% as WTI prices are down 15% and Brent futures are off 6.4%. Regionally, the MSCI Asia Pacific benchmark has dropped 0.54%.


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