Most Global Shares Up, Tracking Wall St. Gains

People walk in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan’s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Global shares tracked overnight gains on Wall Street, although Tokyo’s benchmark fell back Tuesday as concerns over the virus outbreak gnawed at buying sentiment.

France’s CAC 40 gained 1.4% in early trading to 5,408.15, while Germany’s DAX rose 1.6% at 12,045.32. Britain’s FTSE 100 jumped 2.1% to 6,792.48.

U.S. shares were set for further gains after a huge rally on Monday, with Dow futures adding 1.1% to 26,761.00. S&P 500 futures rose 1% to 3,096.10.

Traders were awaiting talks between central bankers and other financial leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations on how to tackle the slowdown brought on by the outbreak that began in China and has spread to dozens of countries, killing about 3,100 people and sickening more than 90,000.

“Calibrating the likelihood of coordinated monetary and fiscal policy stimulus remains the central theme for financial markets,” Stephen Innes of AxiCorp. said in a commentary.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.2% to finish at 21,082.73 after gaining in the morning. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7% to 6,435.70 after the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its key interest rate to a record-low 0.5%.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6% to 2,014.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell less than 0.1% to 26,284.82, while the Shanghai Composite advanced 0.7% to 2,992.90.

The mood shifted in Tokyo by midday, as thoughts turned to what the Bank of Japan might be able to do to help counter the slowdown worsened by the outbreak of the new virus that causes a disease called COVID-19. The BOJ’s policy rate has stood at minus 0.1% for several years and the central bank has been purchasing tens of billions of yen (billions of dollars) worth of government bonds and other assets to help keep credit cheap and stave off deflation as the population in the world’s No. 3 economy ages and shrinks.

But elsewhere in the region the mood was upbeat after the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared, marking its biggest-ever point gain and the biggest percentage increase since March 2009. The huge gains clawed back some of the ground lost last week in a massive sell-off that gave stocks their worst stretch since the financial crisis of 2008.

“So why are markets so pumped by prospects of monetary response; arguably not the most apt tool to address the direct fallout from coronavirus-related disruptions?” said Vishnu Varathan at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

“One reason may be that more nuanced measures to ease cash-flow will offer a reprieve for businesses and households affected by seizures in activity and disruptions in supply chains,” he said.

Malaysia’s central bank also moved to boost its economy, as expected, cutting its key overnight policy rate by 0.25 percentage point to 2.5%.

The virus epidemic that began in central China has been shutting down industrial centers, emptying shops and severely crimping travel all over the world. More companies are warning investors that their finances will take a hit because of disruptions to supply chains and sales.

Amid the worsening outlook, investors are increasingly anticipating that the Federal Reserve and other major central banks around the world will lower interest rates or take other steps to shield the global economy from the effects of the outbreak.

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank announced simultaneously Monday that they are ready to help countries affected by the coronavirus through their emergency lending programs and other tools.

And Christine Lagarde, the head of the European Central Bank, said Monday that Europe’s top monetary authority is ready to take “appropriate and targeted measures” if necessary to support the economy against the headwinds from the new coronavirus.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will lead the call Tuesday. The group includes Japan, Germany, Britain and France, among others. The G-7 often issues statements pledging cooperation amid global economic turbulence.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a research organization made up of mostly advanced economies, said Monday that the viral outbreak “presents the global economy with its greatest danger since the financial crisis” in 2008.

The OECD cut its world growth forecast and said that even if there are only limited outbreaks outside China, the global economy will grow just 2.4% this year, the weakest since the crisis. That forecast matches several private estimates.

If other countries are hit with outbreaks similar to China’s, growth could fall as low as 1.5%, the OECD said.