European Shares Set To Drift Lower On Virus Worries

European stocks are set to open lower on Wednesday after the U.S. recorded
700 deaths in one of the country’s darkest days from the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, lifting total U.S. fatalities from the disease to more than 3,700.

“I expect to see some very bad numbers coming out of the economy in the first quarter, second quarter,” Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester said in an interview on CNBC.

The scientists leading the Trump administration’s fight estimated the virus could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 in the country.

Describing the pandemic as “a plague”, President Donald Trump has warned of a “very painful” two weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic was “far from over” in the Asia-Pacific region and countries must prepare for large-scale community transmission, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said as the global death toll due to novel coronavirus crossed the 42,000-mark.

The U.S. has the highest number of infections, at over 189,000, followed by Italy, Spain, China and Germany.

Meanwhile, in an effort to dispel public fears about hidden cases of the virus, China said it will include asymptomatic cases in its official count starting today.

Asian markets are trading mixed amid tightened lockdowns across the world to combat the virus spread.

Results of a private survey showed that China’s manufacturing activity expanded slightly in March, compared with February’s sharpest contraction on record.

Elsewhere, a measure of sentiment among Japan’s large manufacturers plunged in January-March, marking the fifth straight quarter of declines and the longest downturn since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Gold clawed back from a steep fall in the previous session while oil prices traded mixed, following their biggest-ever quarterly and monthly losses.

Euro zone unemployment data for February and final euro zone manufacturing PMI data are due later in the session.

Across the Atlantic, reports on private sector employment and manufacturing activity may attract attention as investors attempt to gauge the early economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. stocks ended lower overnight as coronavirus worries overshadowed better-than-expected reports on consumer confidence and Chicago-area business activity.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.8 percent and the S&P 500 shed 1.6 percent to record their worst first quarter performances ever, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 1 percent.

European stocks rose on Tuesday after a report showed an unexpected expansion in Chinese manufacturing activity.

The pan European Stoxx 600 advanced 1.7 percent. The German DAX climbed 1.2 percent, France’s CAC 40 index rose 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 rallied 2 percent.

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