Asian Stocks Lose Early Gains Amidst Ongoing COVID-19  Fears  By

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© Reuters. – Asian markets continued to lose ground Thursday morning in Asia as fears of a global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grip markets.  


Japan’s  225 could not hold on to a strong start to the morning session. The Japanese benchmark opened up 2.34% quickly gave up those gains and was down 0.78% by 10:04 PM ET (02:04 AM GMT). 

The Bank of Japan is expected to announce an interest rate decision later this morning, with analysts forecasting a 0.10% cut.  


In South Korea, the  was down 5.2%. 


Hong Kong’s dived 4.18% as markets opened but cut those losses somewhat and was down 2.62%.  


China’s was down 0.94% and the was down 0.29%.  


Down Under, the Australian government announced a gain of 26,7000 jobs in February, higher than analyst predictions of 10,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.1%, lower than the predicted 5.3%. The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to announce further quantitative easing measures later in the day. Still, the  gave up an early gain of more than 2% and was down 1.38%.  


Around the world, countries continue to put in more measures to limit movement as the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. There are now 207,860 cases and 8,657 deaths globally as of March 18, according to the World Health Organisation. 


The European Central Bank joined recent efforts by global central banks including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan by announcing a €750 billion ($821.23 billion) Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme that will purchase securities to support European economies in the midst of outbreaks. 


“The ECB will ensure that all sectors of the economy can benefit from supportive financing conditions that enable them to absorb this shock,” the ECB said in a release. “The Governing Council will do everything necessary within its mandate.” 


But investors remain wary.  


“The outlook has changed pretty dramatically even in the last few days. We’re looking at a sudden stop globally, so the probability of a global recession has gone up remarkably,” Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon, told Bloomberg.  

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