Europe markets show early signs of optimism.
Asian stocks got hammered on Friday, following Wall Street’s worst trading day in more than three decades. But Europe opened higher, in a sign of returning optimism.
Wall Street looked poised to end the week on a more positive note, too, based on futures trading.
Stocks in France and Germany were up by around 3 percent in early trading before easing back. The DAX index in Frankfurt was up 1 percent, while the CAC 40 in Paris was up 1.4 percent.
In London, the market jumped by more than 5 percent, indicating some bargain hunters were back in the market, before settling down and trading at 2.1 percent.
The price of oil crept up by 7 percent to $35.50 a barrel after getting pummeled in recent days. The yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury also rose.
Asia was more pessimistic. Like Wall Street, every major financial market in Asia except for China is now firmly in bear market territory. That means that stocks have fallen by 20 percent from their highs. Not even the promise of a flood of money from various global policymakers into domestic economies appeared to be able to sooth jittery investors.
In Tokyo, they pushed stocks down 6 percent. At one point, Japanese shares were down more than 10 percent.
In Seoul, stocks finished the week down 3.4 percent. Regulators in South Korea halted the market for a second day as investors pushed it down by as much as 13 percent in early trading. After trading they announced a six-month ban on all short selling, essentially preventing traders from betting against any stock.
Hong Kong’s market fell by 1.1 percent. Even in Shanghai and Shenzhen, where the Chinese government often puts a floor on share drops, stocks dropped by more than 1 percent.
In Sydney, investors had a sudden change of heart midafternoon, helping stocks to pare steep losses and close up 4.4 percent.
One gauge of market volatility, an index known as Vix, jumped to its highest level since it began in 1990, even higher than during the 2008 financial crisis.
China adds its central bank firepower.
China’s central bank on Friday moved to free up money to help the country’s economy, joining a growing number of global policymakers worried about the impact of the fast-moving coronavirus.
The People’s Bank of China said it would inject $79 billion into its financial system, in a move that indicated Beijing remains concerned about its domestic economy after weeks of virtual shutdown.
The central bank eased the financial cushion it requires lenders to keep — cutting the so-called reserve ratio requirement by up to 1 percentage point for some banks — to loosen up money and encourage lending.
China’s economy was already struggling with its slowest growth in nearly three decades before the coronavirus hit, disrupting business and leading to the virtual shutdown of business across China for six weeks.
The bank said on Friday that the move was done “in order to support the development of the real economy” and reduce the cost of financing for businesses.
Stocks plummet as Trump’s travel ban adds to investors’ distress.
Stocks continued their plunge on Thursday, as President Trump’s ban on the entry from most European countries to the United States disappointed investors who had been waiting for Washington to take stronger steps to bolster the economy.
Trading was turbulent, with stocks staging a brief comeback as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve’s decision to offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of loans to banks to help smooth out the functioning of the financial markets. But the market began to crumble again by midafternoon.
The S&P 500 closed down about 9.5 percent, its biggest daily drop since the stock market crashed in 1987, on what came to be known as Black Monday. The decline has left stocks in the United States firmly in a bear market — a term that signifies a decline of 20 percent from the most recent highs.
For the Dow Jones industrial average, the drop of 10 percent was also its worst since the 1987 stock market crash.
Analysis: Something weird is happening on Wall Street
Underneath the alarming stock market figures, the financial world is signaling something unusual.
Bond prices and stock prices have moved together, not in opposite directions as they usually do. There were reports from trading desks that many assets that are normally liquid — easy to buy and sell — were freezing up, with securities not trading widely. That includes some Treasury bonds, which are usually easy to buy and sell and often represent a safe haven for investors.
All this suggests that major financial players are experiencing a cash crunch, and are selling whatever they can as a result. That would help explain the seeming contradiction of assets that should go up in value in a time of economic peril instead falling in value.
The volatility in markets in the last few weeks reflects the deep uncertainty about the near future of the world economy. But for now it is being compounded by something strange happening just beneath the surface, creating ripples like the ones that are evident in this tumultuous week.
The Fed intervenes after ‘highly unusual disruptions.’
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York responded on Thursday to increasingly fraught market conditions by announcing that it would offer at least $1.5 trillion worth of short-term loans to banks Thursday and Friday and change the structure of its asset purchase program.
The moves came as the markets for a variety of bonds — including usually easy-to-trade Treasuries — turned messier starting on Wednesday. Traders and strategists reported that markets were thin, and the gap between the prices buyers offered and those that sellers asked for was widening. At the same time, tremors had developed in funding markets, the plumbing of financial markets in which cash flows between banks, as fears over the coronavirus economic caused gyrations across Wall Street.
“These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in a statement.
Specifically, the central bank announced that it would offer $500 billion in a three-month repurchase operation Thursday afternoon. It also said that it would begin to buy government debt “across a range of maturities.” In recent months, it has been buying $60 billion a month only in short-term Treasury bills.
Analysts viewed the moves as warranted given funding constraints on Wall Street.
“This is a full-blown crisis response operation, intended to make it abundantly clear that the Fed will not allow liquidity to dry up,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note.
Here’s what else is happening.
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers” will suspend production next week, NBC said Thursday, making them the biggest daily American television series to go dark because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic
Disney will close its theme parks worldwide starting this weekend, including Disney World in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. Disney Cruise Line will also close.
Reporting was contributed by Alexandra Stevenson, Cao Li, Amie Tsang, Carlos Tejada, Brooks Barnes and Katie Robertson.