Stock markets rally on stimulus hopes
Shares across Asia Pacific have returned to positive territory after a week of heavy losses on the hope of stimulus measures from central banks.
In Japan the Nikkei is up 1.4% and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong has risen 0.9%. In Shanghai the Composite is up nearly 3% while Seoul is 0.9% to the good. Australia’s ASX200 is still off 1% but that’s an improvement on earlier when it plunged 2.7%. The Aussie dollar, a China proxy, has been under pressure for weeks but recovered slightly to US65.25c.
The FTSE100 is expected to bounce by 1.89% this morning, according to futures trading. Wall Street is seen opening up 0.34%.
The US Fed is widely expected to cut rates by 50 basis points when its policy makers meet on 17-18th of this month – if not before. It’s priced in, as traders say.
Australia’s Reserve Bank will most likely get there first with a cut of at least 0.25% when it convenes its monthly monetary policy tomorrow. The Bank of Japan said on Monday that it would take all action possible to stabilise financial markets.
US bond yields, which we talked about earlier, have recovered a bit as well. It’s a crucial part of the markets equation. Allianz chief economist Mohamed El-Erian says it shows there will be a lot of volatility around when the European and US markets start up later.
And in case you’re wondering, the Vix volatility index, sometimes called the “fear index”, is up slightly to 40.11.
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Japan sumo tournament to be held indoors
Sumo wrestling has become the latest sport to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak, after officials decided that the spring tournament would be held behind closed doors.
“To those many who were looking forward to this, we are sorry for this huge inconvenience,” Hakkaku, the chairman of the Japan Sumo Association, told reporters.
“There were various viewpoints, but there was an absolute desire to hold it for the sake of the fans.”
The tournament, which opens in Osaka next Sunday, will be televised by public broadcaster NHK, but will be canceled if a wrestler is found to have contracted the virus, Hakkaku added, according to Kyodo news agency.
The decision to ban spectators from the 15-day tournament - one of six major sumo competitions held throughout the year - comes after Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said sports and cultural events should be cancelled or scaled down until the middle of the month.
Preseason baseball games are being played in empty stadiums through to 15 March, while Japan’s professional football league said that all 94 matches scheduled to run through to the same date would be postponed. Rugby’s Top League has postponed 16 matches, while the Japan Racing Association is holding horse races without spectators, and keirin cycling races are being held behind closed doors until 11 March.
On Sunday, just a few hundred elite runners took part in the Tokyo Marathon, after 38,000 amateur runners were told they would not be able to participate. Members of the public had been discouraged from turning out to watch the race, which last year drew more than a million spectators.
While Tokyo 2020 organisers insist there are no plans to cancel this summer’s Olympics, the coronavirus has disrupted preparations for the Games, due to open on 24 July. Last week, Tokyo postponed training for Olympic volunteers and Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the organising committee, said it would scale back the torch relay, due to begin in Fukushima in late March.
The Australian Academy of Science has published a fact-check video on the coronavirus with Professor Raina MacIntyre, a global biosecurity expert and head of the biosecurity program at the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales.
MacIntyre said this about how the virus spreads, and why global health agencies keep telling you to wash your hands:
We know that the load of virus, the number of viruses you can find, is higher in the lungs, deep in the lungs, than in the throat or the nose.
But we also know that like Sars and Mers coronavirus is spread by droplets... large respiratory droplets coming from the throat and the nose.
[It also spreads] through contact. So contaminated surfaces. If someone has coughed or sneezed on a handrail or a table or a chair and you put your hand there you can then infect yourself.
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