Marts fall


    SINGAPORE/WASHINGTON- Asian stock markets fell on Thursday but not as sharply as Wall Street’s rout overnight, while oil bounced off lows and US futures jumped, as Asia’s brighter economic outlook offset investor worries about fresh COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.8 percent and drops in Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai and Seoul were smaller than 1.5 percent.

    That is heavy but much less than the S&P 500 index’s 3.5 percent drop or the 4.2 percent fall by Germany’s DAX which led European shares to their lowest level since late May.

    S&P 500 futures and Dow futures rebounded 1 percent, which traders attributed to heightened volatility and to the less gloomy mood around Asia as China’s economy builds up steam.

    “Asia is not really partaking in this second or third wave story because it’s got its COVID largely under control,” said Rob Carnell, chief economist in Asia at Dutch bank ING. “As a result, domestic economies look reasonable.

    Exports will remain soft…but domestically they are still doing OK and doing a lot better relative to (Europe and the US).”

    Oil rose from a four-month low overnight and the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars rose about a quarter of a percent.

    Still, both currencies are, for now, headed for a weekly loss against the dollar and so is the euro, as worries about the new lockdowns seemed to catch investors by surprise.

    In France, people will be required to stay in their homes from Friday, except to buy essential goods, seek medical attention or exercise.

    Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from Nov. 2-30.