Asian stocks set to fall on growing second virus wave fears

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian equities and oil prices were set to slip on Tuesday amid growing investor worries about a second wave of coronavirus infections after the Chinese city where the pandemic originated reported its first new cases since its lockdown was lifted.

The central Chinese city of Wuhan reported five new confirmed cases on Monday, casting doubts over efforts to lower coronavirus-related restrictions across the country as businesses restart and individuals went back to work.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures .HSI .HSIc1 were down 0.68% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures NKc1 were off 0.1%.

“My feeling is that it will be flat to slightly down across Asia,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and economics for AMP Capital in Sydney, citing concerns about coronavirus clusters and a potential second wave.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures YAPcm1 fell 0.35%.

The S&P 500 barely closed higher on Wall Street, but the Nasdaq posted its sixth consecutive advance as technology and healthcare shares provided the biggest lift to all three major U.S. stock indexes.

The Nasdaq is now within 10% of its all-time high reached in February.

A jump in coronavirus cases in South Korea and Germany weighed on Wall Street sentiment even amid signs more parts of the United States could soon emerge from lockdowns.

A second wave of infections would likely snuff out the recent rally in equity markets and lead investors to position for a severe and prolonged global recession.

There were some positive cues for markets with China reporting April credit growth accelerated to 12% from a year ago, a sign that the recovery from a collapse in the first quarter remained intact, the National Australia Bank said in a report.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.04% following broad declines in Europe.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 0.45%, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.01% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.78%.

The dollar, defying its typical safe-haven status, rose on Monday, even as investors added risk to their portfolios, buying U.S. stocks and selling Treasuries.

Investors in FX markets had mixed risk expectations, with an eye on warnings of a second wave of COVID-19 infections as more countries eased lockdown restrictions.

Bond markets signaled that a global economic recovery will be slow. Two-year U.S. government bond yields have hit record lows at 0.105% and Fed fund futures last week turned negative for the first time ever.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 11/32 in price to yield 0.7147%, from 0.681% late on Friday.

In commodity markets, oil prices slid as the pandemic eroded global demand.

U.S. crude recently fell 0.08% to $24.72 per barrel and Brent was at $30.09, down 2.84% on the day.

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