Shares make slight gains in some Asian markets

Shares reversed earlier losses in early trading in Asia on Tuesday after the US market suffered its worst day in more than three decades as the coronavirus brought huge swaths of many economies to a standstill.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 climbed 0.8% at one point but was up only 0.2% by early afternoon.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 1.1%. Shares also rose in Thailand, India and Australia, but fell in other regional markets.

“Market experts actually originally predicted at least a one thousand point crash for the Hang Seng index. But surprise, surprise, there was bottom fishing. Investors went bargaining hunting,” said Francis Lun, a stock analyst in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Financial Markets
Hong Kong Financial Markets

Monday’s 12% drop for the S&P 500, its worst day since the Black Monday crash of 1987, came as Wall Street figures warned the White House the coronavirus may be dragging the economy into recession.

The rebound in Asia followed news the Trump administration plans strong support for airlines stricken by the outbreak and is pushing the Senate to enact a massive stimulus package to alleviate losses for affected businesses and individuals.

The outbreak has infected more than 182,000 people worldwide, including 4,661 in the United States.

Oil prices also rose early on Tuesday, with US benchmark crude up 3.5%, or $1.00 to $29.70 (£22.76) per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It plunged $3.03 on Monday.

Brent crude, the international standard, picked up 1.6%, or 48 cents, to $30.53 (£24.89) per barrel.

Analysts said bargain hunters appeared to be buying to help fill government oil reserves and on hopes that China’s economy will get a boost from a massive stimulus package yet to be announced.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose to 17,122.75 while Hong Kong’s benchmark was at 23,306.48.

Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 3.2% to 5,163.80, while the Shanghai Composite index was flat at 2,790.00. The Sensex in Mumbai rose 1.4% to 31,828.40. The Kospi in South Korea dropped 1.6% to 1,687.96 and shares also fell in Southeast Asia.

The Philippine stock market was closed as of Tuesday after the government imposed restrictions on movement in the capital.

Recent losses in global markets are the worst since the 2008 financial crisis.

The S&P 500 has shed nearly 30% since setting a record less than a month ago, and is at its lowest point since the end of 2018.

Monday’s precipitous losses accelerated in the last half hour of trading after President Donald Trump said the economy may be headed for a recession and asked Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.