Asian markets take a pounding.
Asian stocks continued to get hammered on Friday, following Wall Street’s worst trading day in more than three decades.
Europe looked poised to follow suit, as futures trading indicated another day of selling when markets open later in the day.
Like Wall Street, every major financial market in Asia except for China is now firmly in bear market territory. That means that stocks have fallen by 20 percent from their highs. Not even the promise of a flood of money from various global policymakers into domestic economies appear to be able to sooth jittery investors.
They voted with their feet once again on Friday. In Tokyo and Seoul, South Korea, stocks dropped by nearly 8 percent. At one point, Japanese shares were down more than 10 percent.
Regulators in South Korea were forced to step in to halt the market for a second day as investors pushed the market down by as much as 13 percent in early trading.
Hong Kong’s market fell by 5.6 percent. Even in Shanghai and Shenzhen, where the Chinese government often puts a floor on share drops, stocks dropped by more than 3 percent.
In Sydney, investors pushed the market down nearly 4 percent. In Bangkok, the market plunged by 10 percent, while others in Southeast Asia fell by more than 5 percent.
Investors are riled over darkening prospects for the global economy as the coronavirus increasingly wreaks economic havoc on the United States and the European Union.
“Coronavirus drives the fastest bear market ever,” read the subject line in an email from one big investment bank to investors.
Investors also seemed to be shunning typical safe harbor investments like gold and long term U.S. Treasuries. Cryptocurrency, an asset not linked to the global financial system, has also plunged.
One gauge of market volatility, an index known as Vix, jumped to its highest level since it began in 1990, even higher than in 2008 financial crisis.
Stocks plummet as Trump’s travel ban adds to investors’ distress.
Stocks continued their plunge on Thursday, as President Trump’s ban on the entry from most European countries to the United States disappointed investors who had been waiting for Washington to take stronger steps to bolster the economy.
Trading was turbulent, with stocks staging a brief comeback as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve’s decision to offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of loans to banks to help smooth out the functioning of the financial markets. But the market began to crumble again by midafternoon.
The S&P 500 closed down about 9.5 percent, its biggest daily drop since the stock market crashed in 1987, on what came to be known as Black Monday. The decline has left stocks in the United States firmly in a bear market — a term that signifies a decline of 20 percent from the most recent highs.
For the Dow Jones industrial average, the drop of 10 percent was also its worst since the 1987 stock market crash.
Analysis: Something weird is happening on Wall Street
Underneath the alarming stock market figures, the financial world is signaling something unusual.
Bond prices and stock prices have moved together, not in opposite directions as they usually do. There were reports from trading desks that many assets that are normally liquid — easy to buy and sell — were freezing up, with securities not trading widely. That includes some Treasury bonds, which are usually easy to buy and sell and often represent a safe haven for investors.
All this suggests that major financial players are experiencing a cash crunch, and are selling whatever they can as a result. That would help explain the seeming contradiction of assets that should go up in value in a time of economic peril instead falling in value.
The volatility in markets in the last few weeks reflects the deep uncertainty about the near future of the world economy. But for now it is being compounded by something strange happening just beneath the surface, creating ripples like the ones that are evident in this tumultuous week.
The Fed intervenes after ‘highly unusual disruptions.’
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York responded on Thursday to increasingly fraught market conditions by announcing that it would offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks Thursday and Friday and change the structure of its asset purchase program.
The moves came as the markets for a variety of bonds — including usually easy-to-trade Treasuries — turned messier starting on Wednesday. Traders and strategists reported that markets were thin, and the gap between the prices buyers offered and those that sellers asked for was widening. At the same time, tremors had developed in funding markets, the plumbing of financial markets in which cash flows between banks, as fears over the coronavirus economic caused gyrations across Wall Street.
“These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in a statement.
Specifically, the central bank announced that it would offer $500 billion in a three-month repurchase operation Thursday afternoon. It also said that it would begin to buy government debt “across a range of maturities.” In recent months, it has been buying $60 billion a month only in short-term Treasury bills.
Analysts viewed the moves as warranted given funding constraints on Wall Street.
“This is a full-blown crisis response operation, intended to make it abundantly clear that the Fed will not allow liquidity to dry up,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note.
Here’s what else is happening.
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” will suspend production next week, NBC said Thursday, making them the biggest daily American television series to go dark because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic
Disney will close its theme parks worldwide starting this weekend, including Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. Disney Cruise Line will also close.
Reporting was contributed by Alexandra Stevenson, Carlos Tejada, Brooks Barnes and Katie Robertson.