Stock Markets Drop Across Asia: Live Updates

Taking cues from Wall Street, markets in Asia decline.

Asia markets fell on Friday after Wall Street gave up its gains in a late-session slump, as investors processed more bad news from the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan stocks led a moderate drop across the region by midday. Futures markets were predicting similarly desultory openings for Wall Street and European markets.

Investors appeared to be taking their cues from Wall Street, which gave up its earlier gains late on Thursday to end mostly flat. Economic and corporate data continued to outline the toll the coronavirus has taken on the global economy, and American officials continued to emphasize that recovery would be difficult.

Prices for U.S. Treasury bonds, which typically rise when investors want to park their money in a safe place, gained in Asian trading hours. Oil prices rose strongly in futures markets, but they remained near historical lows amid concerns about oversupply.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index was down 0.8 percent as of midday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 0.3 percent. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.6 percent. South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.6 percent as well.

Stocks on Wall Street ended virtually unchanged on Thursday as an early rally, fueled by a surge in oil prices, faded.

The S&P 500, which rose as much as 1.6 percent earlier in the day, was flat by the close of trading. The ups and downs came as investors absorbed more grim economic news: Millions more workers claimed unemployment benefits in the United States and data from Europe highlighted the heavy toll of shutdowns to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Investors have been shrugging off such data in recent weeks, as the shock of the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic fades and they begin to expect an eventual recovery.

Governments have started to discuss measures to return to normal. Businesses in Europe and the United States have begun to detail their plans to reopen businesses. Major airlines have already aggressively advertised the precautions they are taking to lure back passengers, from fogging cabins with disinfectant to restricting food service to blocking out middle seats.

The United Automobile Workers union said on Thursday that it was opposed to companies restarting auto production next month, saying it is not yet safe for its members to return to work.

“At this point in time, the U.A.W. does not believe the scientific data is conclusive that it is safe to have our members back in the workplace,” the union’s president, Rory Gamble, said in a statement. “We have not done enough testing to really understand the threat our members face.”

The union represents more than 400,000 workers and is an influential voice in the labor movement and manufacturing industry.

Mr. Gamble added the union supported an extension of the stay-at-home order in effect in Michigan. That order, by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, expires on April 30 but she has said she expected an extension was warranted.

General Motors, Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler have been discussing with the union when and how they will reopen plants.

The union’s statement comes as some nonunion automakers announce plans to resume production in southern states that have not been hit as hard by the virus as Michigan, where 3,000 people, including more than two dozen U.A.W. members, have died from the coronavirus.

Earlier on Thursday, Toyota Motor said it was preparing to restart operations at its U.S. plants on May 4. Volkswagen has said it would begin phasing in production at its U.S. plant on May 3.

L Brands, the owner of Victoria’s Secret, shot back at the private equity firm that has been trying to terminate its acquisition of the retail chain

The effort on the part of the firm, Sycamore Partners, to end the deal because of the coronavirus outbreak is “invalid” and “pure gamesmanship” after it failed to renegotiate the price, L Brands said in a Delaware court filing on Thursday

L Brands said on Thursday that when the deal was negotiated, “the world was already well aware of the existence of Covid-19, and the parties agreed that Sycamore would bear the risk of any adverse impacts stemming from such a pandemic.” The definition of a “material adverse effect” explicitly carved out impacts from pandemics, the company said.

The company called Sycamore’s stance “pure gamesmanship.” Sycamore sent L Brands a letter on April 13 saying that it wanted to renegotiate the purchase price and other terms of the deal because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to L Brands. When the company declined to renegotiate — because the agreement “expressly allocates the risk of pandemics to Sycamore” — the private equity firm sent a termination notice and fil
ed the subsequent lawsuit, according to the filing.

Catch up: Here’s what else is happening.

  • Starting Friday, all 25,000 United Airlines flight attendants will be required to wear masks while on duty, the airline said. United is the first major U.S. airline to mandate masks. The union that represents flight attendants there and at more than a dozen other airlines separately asked the Transportation Department and Health and Human Services Department to mandate the same industrywide.

Reporting was contributed by Sapna Maheshwari, Neal E. Boudette, Mohammed Hadi, Niraj Chokshi, Carlos Tejada and Daniel Victor.

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