(C) Reuters. A man wearing protective face mask walks in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo
By Stanley White
TOKYO (Reuters) – Stock futures in London and across Europe jumped on Wednesday after the Bank of England joined other major central banks in cutting interest rates to offset economic damage caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
In contrast, Asian shares and U.S. stock futures both fell as growing scepticism about Washington’s stimulus efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak knocked the steam out of an earlier rally.
U.S. stock futures were down 2.39% and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 1.15%.
The BoE unexpectedly cut interest rates by half a percentage point to 0.25% to bolster Britain’s economy against disruption caused by the coronavirus.
The BoE did not announce any new quantitative easing bond purchases, but it did launch a new scheme to support lending to small businesses.
“We’re expecting details on the UK budget, and the timing suggests the BoE is aiming to double the impact by combining monetary policy with fiscal policy,” said Takuya Kanda, general manager of research at Gaitame.com Research Institute in Tokyo.
“This should help give markets some cover, which were damaged by a seeming lack of decision on the part of the Trump administration.”
This week, U.S. President Donald Trump said he would take “major steps” to ease economic strains caused by the spread of the flu-like virus. Headlines focused on discussions of a payroll tax cut, which helped lift market sentiment.
On Wall Street, all three major indexes jumped nearly 5% on Tuesday, one day after U.S. equities markets suffered their biggest one-day losses since the 2008 financial crisis.
However, the lack of major announcements since has left some investors unimpressed.
The pound sank by more than half a cent against the dollar after the news of the first UK rate cut since August 2016.
The dollar resumed its decline against the yen, the Swiss franc and the euro, weighed by uncertainty about the U.S government’s response.
Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields fell to 0.6644%, well above Monday’s record low yield of 0.3180%.
But analysts said yields could fall further as there are still strong expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks will support fiscal stimulus with monetary easing.
Market participants largely expect the Fed to cut interest rates for the second time this month at the conclusion of next week’s regularly scheduled policy meeting after surprising investors last week with 50 basis points rate cut. [FEDWATCH]
The euro is also in focus before a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday, where policymakers will face pressure to ease policy after Italy put the entire country on lockdown in an attempt to slow new coronavirus infections.
U.S. crude rose 1.37% to $34.38 per barrel, while Brent crude rose 1.96% to $37.95 in a topsy-turvy session. Futures initially jumped on signs that U.S. producers would cut output but then pared gains as the trading day progressed.
On Monday, the oil market plunged with futures recording their largest percentage drop since the 1991 Gulf War as a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia broke out.
Many analysts say investors need to remain on guard for further market volatility because the coronavirus still poses a risk to public health in many countries, which could place additional strains on the global economy.
Spot gold, which is often bought as a safe-haven during times of uncertainty, rose 0.71% in Asia to $1,639.78 per ounce. [GOL/]
The virus emerged late last year in the central Chinese province of Hubei but has since spread, leading to more than 4,000 deaths.
Shares in China fell 0.89% on Wednesday. China reported an uptick in new confirmed cases of coronavirus, reversing four days of decline.
Restrictions on movement and factory closures aimed at stopping the epidemic are putting the brakes on global economic activity.
European stock futures jump as BoE joins rate cut party