April 2020
5:54 PM IST
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If you stay indoors right now, you are fighting the battle for your country: Pujara        Lockdown challenge: Rai builds muscles to maintain shape for third Olympics        Avolon cancels order for 75 Boeing 737 MAX planes        Stocks fall on Wall Street, heading for another weekly loss        Trump recommends Americans wear face masks, but says he won't        Indonesia covers up to protect orangutans from virus threat        Bangladesh sees highest single-day jump in coronavirus cases, extends shutdown to Apr 11        EC postpones elections to 11 UP Legislative Council seats amid lockdown        Coronavirus: No community transmission in Goa, says CM        Madhya Pradesh: Two senior health officials test positive for Covid-19        COVID-19 death toll nears 100-mark; Govt says no need to panic as 30% infections linked to Tablighi centre        Kerala has been successful in containing outbreak of COVID-19, claims CM        Elderly couple cured of COVID-19, says Kerala CM        COVID-19 death toll in country rises to 62, cases to 2,547        43 more test positive for virus in Mumbai; death toll 19        COVID-19 cases in Delhi mounts to 386; two more deaths: Authorities        COVID-19: Focus shifts to rapid tests in hotspots; Govt says numbers in control sans one ''event''        Rupee slides 53 paise to settle above 76 mark amid meltdown in equities        India-returned SA players are COVID-19 negative, no symptoms in those not tested        No alternative to constant testing to combat COVID-19: Sonia        
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Business News
Asia stocks dive, dollar soars as ECB bazooka fails to ease fears
Hong Kong: Asian equities sank again Thursday while the dollar surged as a European Central Bank plan to spend more than USD 800 billion to buy bonds failed to instil optimism in traders who fear that the world is heading for a virus-fuelled economic catastrophe.

In what one analyst said could be a "game changer" for the coronavirus-wracked eurozone, the ECB's so-called Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme aims to give financial markets some much-needed liquidity as investors pull the plug on markets.

It said the 750-billion-euro (USD 820-billion) programme was temporary and will be halted when the coronavirus crisis is judged to be over "but in any case not before the end of the year".

After announcing the move, ECB boss Christine Lagarde tweeted that "extraordinary times require extraordinary action. There are no limits to our commitment to the euro." Those comments echoed the words of her predecessor Mario Draghi, whose pledge to do "whatever it takes" to preserve the eurozone was seen as a turning point in the region's sovereign debt crisis.

Asian markets initially climbed on the news but soon tumbled as investors contemplate months of economic hardship with countries around the world in lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which has now infected more than 200,000 people and killed almost 9,000.

Seoul tanked more than eight percent, Singapore dived 3.9 percent and Sydney and Wellington lost more than three percent. Tokyo and Shanghai ended down one percent, while Hong Kong was 2.6 percent off.

Taipei and Jakarta crumbled more than five percent, Mumbai lost 2.3 percent and Bangkok was 1.5 percent lower.

Manila plunged almost 25 percent after reopening following a two-day suspension prompted by the outbreak but it later bounced back to sit more than 13 percent down.

In early trade, London edged up 0.3 percent, Paris jumped more than two percent and Frankfurt gained 0.4 percent.

The sharp losses were in tandem with a surge in the dollar as investors scrambled for cash to pay debts or just stash away.

The pound is now wallowing around its lowest levels since the mid-1980s, while the greenback was up more than six percent against the Australian dollar and more than three percent on the South Korean won.

The US dollar hit a record high above 75 Indian rupees, while the New Zealand dollar and Russian ruble lost more than five percent.

AxiCorp's Stephen Innes warned of further turmoil despite the historic moves by banks and governments.

"Wartime economics is not going to help with everyone in lockdown sitting at home watching Netflix," he said.

The ECB's bazooka was the latest in a string of measures by central banks and governments aimed at supporting the global economy, which have amounted to almost 2 trillion.

Still, the measures have not been enough to soothe panic-stricken investors and analysts say more must be done. Soon after the ECB announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron called for more fiscal action from leaders.

Australia's central bank became the latest to move, slashing interest rates to a record low on Thursday and pledging to pump billions into the financial system.

But Ryuta Otsuka, chief strategist at Toyo Securities, told AFP: "Offering of liquidity by the (European) authorities supported morning trade, but that was short-lived as people don't know where the exit is from fears over the coronavirus, even though it seems like it is simply something like a bad kind of cold."

The latest rout in Asia followed another day of carnage on Wall Street, where the Dow ended down more than six percent and below 20,000 for the first time since 2017 as traders feared that the spiralling pandemic could tip the world into a severe and long-lasting recession.

The ECB move also had a dramatic effect on the oil market, with the price of the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate up almost 17 percent at nearly 24 a barrel, recouping much of the 24 percent lost the day before.

However, the commodity tracked the sell-off on other markets and lost a large chunk of those gains.

Oil markets have been hammered by collapsing demand as the virus prompts sweeping travel restrictions and business closures, and as major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia engage in a price war.

"There is just extreme volatility in the market now as participants try to assess the economic impact of the coronavirus and what it means for oil demand," Daniel Hynes, at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, said.

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 16,552.83 (close) Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 2.6 percent at 21,709.13 (close) Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 2,702.13 (close) London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 5,097.70 Dollar/yen: UP at 108.69 yen from 107.96 yen at 2100 GMT Euro/dollar: DOWN at 1.0882 from 1.0912 Pound/dollar: DOWN at 1.1577 from 1.1589 Euro/pound: UP at 94.44 pence from 94.20 pence Brent North Sea crude: UP 7.2 percent at 26.68 per barrel West Texas Intermediate: UP 14.7 percent at 23.37 per barrel New York - Dow: DOWN 6.3 percent at 19,898.92 (close) -- Bloomberg News contributed to this story.

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