Investors Creep Back After Worst Market Rout in Years

Investors in the Asia-Pacific region were looking to find their footing on Tuesday, one day after the coronavirus and a battle among the world’s biggest oil producers shook global financial markets.

Many of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region were trading modestly higher by midday on Tuesday. Hong Kong, the region’s biggest gainer, was up more than 1 percent at midday. Futures markets indicated that Wall Street and Europe would open higher.

Government bonds, a safe haven, continued to indicate that investors were searching for security. Yields on U.S. government debt rose slightly but remained close to record lows. The price of gold fell slightly, revealing that investor skittishness had eased slightly.

The modest moves followed Wall Street’s worst day in over a decade. In Asia and Europe, some of the biggest financial exchanges flirted with, or crossed into, bear market territory on Monday.

The price of oil, which had slumped by a quarter on Monday, crept back up over 2 percent to about $36.80 a barrel. Two of the world’s biggest oil producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia, are engaged in a price war and demand for oil around the world has fallen as the coronavirus spreads, halting global travel. Low oil prices are good for drivers at the pump, but they unsettle dozens of countries that depend heavily on the price of oil to keep their currencies afloat and their economies running.

“The oil price collapse is yet another shock for fragile economies and markets to cope with — all against the background of turmoil in financial markets generally,” said Shamik Dhar, chief economist at BNY Mellon Investment Management.

In Australia, where the market crashed into bear market territory on Monday, the main stock index was up about. In the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen, stocks rose only slightly into positive territory and traded at about 0.6 percent. Stocks in Seoul, South Korea, were up 0.2 percent.

Tokyo remained firmly in the red. The market was down 1.5 percent midday.

Markets in the United States plummeted on Monday as a panic that began in the oil market set off a chain reaction that rumbled across the world, adding to concerns about the global economy.

It was Wall Street’s worst day in more than a decade. The S&P 500, already down 12 percent from its late February high, fell more than 7 percent on Monday. The sudden drop tripped automatic “circuit breakers,” halting trading for 15 minutes — a rare occurrence meant to prevent stocks from crashing.

The plunge was the biggest in the United States since December 2008, when investors were still reeling from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the housing crisis that dragged the economy into a recession. It put the index close to 20 percent below its record high, a drop that would have ended the bull market for stocks that began exactly 11 years ago.

In what appears to be the first publicly confirmed case of the outbreak hitting New York’s financial-services industry, an employee at Point72, the hedge fund run by Steven A. Cohen, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The employee, whose name has not been made public, is based at Point72’s Hudson Yards location on Manhattan’s west side, and works on the building’s 14th floor, in a part of the company known as the back office, where accounting and other support work is done, said a company official. Suspecting he or she might have been infected, the person self-quarantined about a week ago, the official said, and has not been in the office since.

In the interest of safety, other workers based on the 14th floor have been asked to work at home for the next two weeks, the Point72 official said, and both the affected floor and other company office space is being deep-cleaned in the interim.

“We are taking the COVID-19 situation seriously,” the company said in a statement Monday evening. Moreover, the statement added, “We have extensive business continuity plans in place to ensure the Firm can continue to operate.” The positive result was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.

With the State Department advising against traveling on cruise ships because of the coronavirus and an increasing number of conventions and festivals canceled, Disney’s theme parks in Florida and California on Monday started their high-volume spring-break season as usual: gridlocked.

But the coronavirus continued to cause major problems for Disney overseas. The company’s Asian theme park operation — four parks in China and Japan that together attract 51.2 million visitors annually — has been closed, and Disney expects its China parks to remain shuttered until the end of March.

The Shanghai property began a “phased reopening” on Monday by allowing guests to enter a shopping and dining area outside the park gates. Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea are scheduled to reopen next Monday.

Disney Cruise Line, which operates four ships that can carry 13,400 people at any given time, remains open.

A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment on Monday.

Since Feb. 4, Disney’s stock price has declined 27 percent, to about $106. The S&P 500 has fallen about 10 percent over that period.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, in response to a potential coronavirus case, on Monday required a part of its staff to stay away from the agency’s Washington headquarters and advised all other employees there to work from home as well, a person briefed on the matter said.

An email that the agency sent to workers said the requirement applied to those on the ninth floor of the headquarters, the person confirmed. The email said a doctor had told an S.E.C. employee with respiratory symptoms earlier that they could be caused by the coronavirus. The move was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

Australia’s Qantas Group said on Monday that it would cut service by almost a quarter over the next six months because of a “sudden and significant drop” in bookings. The carrier also announced pay cuts for its board and executive team.

“We expect lower demand to continue for the next several months, so rather than taking a piecemeal approach we’re cutting capacity out to mid-September,” Alan Joyce, Qantas’s chief executive, said in a statement.

Airlines around the world have been announcing similar moves in recent days as the coronavirus’s rapid spread has contributed to a steep drop-off in global flight demand.

Qantas will reduce service to Asia by 31 percent, while flights to the United States will be cut 19 percent. The airline also withdrew its earnings guidance for the fiscal year that ends in June.

To cut costs, the airline also said that it would cancel a planned share buyback, eliminate management bonuses for the fiscal year, reduce board and executive management pay by 30 percent and offer paid and unpaid leave. It also said that Mr. Joyce would not take a salary.

Reporting and research were contributed by Alexandra Stevenson, Kate Kelly, Matthew Goldstein, Brooks Barnes and Niraj Chokshi.

Source Article