TOKYO- Global shares slipped on Wednesday as coronavirus infections grew at an alarming pace in the United States and Europe, while uncertainty over next week’s US elections added to a “risk off ” tone.
MSCI’s ex-Japan Asia index dipped 0.15 percent in early trade while Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.6 percent.
Futures for US S&P500, Dow Jones and Nasdaq all fell 0.5 percent-0.6 percent in Asian trade on Wednesday, rattled by a media report that French government may bring in a national lockdown from midnight on Thursday.
The United States, Russia, France and other countries have registered record numbers of infections in recent days, and European governments have introduced new curbs to try to rein in the fast-growing outbreaks.
Data on Tuesday showed US consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in October, although other economic figures were mostly positive, with orders for key capital goods hitting a six-year high.
The fall in US stock futures came after a mixed session on Wall Street, where the S&P 500 lost 0.30 percent on virus worries while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.64 percent.
Microsoft kicked off a slate of reporting from tech heavyweights by beating Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue, buoyed by its flagship cloud computing business amid increased work-fromhome arrangements. But its shares slipped 1.7 percent after the bell.
Apple Inc, Amazon.com, and Google-parent Alphabet are among major tech players reporting later this week.
Investors appeared content to steer clear of risk with looming uncertainty, headlined by the Nov. 3 US presidential election.
As former Vice President Joe Biden has enjoyed a consistent lead over President Donald Trump, investors have been cautiously betting on his victory and possibly a “blue wave” outcome, where Democrats take back the Senate as well.
Still the presidential race is closer in battleground states that could determine the outcome, leaving investors on edge.
“It appears the gap between Biden and Trump is shrinking a bit lately. In particular, Biden’s lead in swing states doesn’t look that different from (Democratic candidate) Hilary Clinton’s in 2016,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, market strategist at Mizuho Securities.