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GLOBAL MARKETS: Asian shares catch gloomy mood from Wall Street

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

GLOBAL MARKETS: Asian shares catch gloomy mood from Wall Street
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


Phuket: Asian shares edged down in early trading today, on track for a weekly loss, while U.S. jobs data underpinned the dollar as it bolstered bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve is headed toward a hike interest rates later this year.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down about 0.2 percent in early trading, on course for a weekly loss of more than 1 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index dipped 0.3 percent.

On tap for investors is the Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which will provide the latest clue to the health of the world’s second-largest economy.

“The consensus forecast is for a move higher, from 49.4 to 49.7. As an activity index, it should be more resilient than recent sentiment indicators, which have been affected by the volatility in equities,” Sean Callow, senior strategist at Westpac, said in a note.

While Beijing’s support steps appear to have halted this month’s stock market rout, some fear that fragile investor sentiment could drag on the financial services sector and weigh down the economy in the coming months.

China looks set to further reduce interest rates and the amount of cash its banks must hold as reserves to try to keep its economy growing at 7 percent this year, which would be the slowest pace in a quarter of a century, a Reuters poll showed on Thursday.

On Wall Street overnight, downbeat corporate earnings reports sent U.S. equities lower, with all three major U.S. indexes logging solid losses.

Better-than-expected U.S. jobless claims gave U.S. Treasury yields a boost, adding to the dollar’s appeal, though yields came back down as risk appetite evaporated in the face of Wall Street’s losses.

The benchmark U.S. 10-year yield was at 2.276 percent in Asian trading, compared to its U.S. close of 2.278 percent on Thursday.

The weekly employment data showed that initial jobless claims declined 26,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 255,000, the lowest since November 1973.

Upbeat employment and housing data this week have backed the view that the U.S. central bank will raise interest rates, perhaps as early as September, which has underpinned the greenback.

The euro was last up about 0.1 percent on the day at $1.0991, after gaining in the previous session, as the Greek parliament approved a second set of reforms required to start negotiations with lenders in a bid to avert bankruptcy.

The dollar was steady on the day at 123.93 yen. The Japanese currency was briefly on the defensive on Thursday after the International Monetary Fund warned Japan to avoid over-reliance on a weak currency to reflate its economy.

Spot gold was steady on the day at $1,090.55 an ounce, but on track for a weekly loss of nearly 4 percent, after marking its deepest one-day loss in nearly two years on Monday.

Crude oil futures rebounded from multi-month lows recorded overnight, with U.S. crude up about 0.7 percent at $48.81 a barrel, after marking its lowest settlement since March 31.

Brent added 0.4 percent to $55.47, after it settled at its lowest level since April 2 on Thursday, amid persistent fears about a global supply glut.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe

Maya Taylor

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France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas Selter on Unsplash

The leaders of France and Germany are once again having to introduce national lockdowns as the Covid-19 virus continues to surge across Europe. France is now recording over 36,000 (+36,437 yesterday) new cases a day, while Germany, which fared slightly better than other European countries during the first wave of the virus, is now seeing a dramatic rise in cases as winter approaches (+16,202 yesterday).

In announcing the new lockdown in France, President Emmanuel Macron warned that the country faces a second wave that could be worse than the first. Strict measures come into effect from tomorrow, with people not permitted to leave their homes unless it is to seek medical attention, purchase essential items, or to exercise for a maximum of an hour a day. However, schools remain open and people can still go to work if it is not possible for them to do their job from home.

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated. Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus. We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first.”

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Over in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that from next Monday, November 2, to the end of November, all bars, restaurants, and theatres will close. Schools will remain open and shops will be permitted to operate under strict conditions. The chancellor warns that the measures are vital to protect the country’s healthcare system.

“We need to take action now. Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections, it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

Confirmation of lockdowns in Europe’s biggest economies caused stock markets around the world to plummet, with European markets closing at their lowest level since late May. The S&P 500, which measures the performance of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the US, was down 3%.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

Meanwhile, with just 5 days to go before the presidential election, the US continues to set records with its rising numbers of virus cases. President Trump, however, remains undeterred, as he continues to hold public rallies, with many supporters not wearing masks.

France and Germany back in lockdown amid resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: SBS News

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World

Son of Sultan of Brunei dies at the age of 38

Maya Taylor

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Son of Sultan of Brunei dies at the age of 38 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Scoop

The son of the Sultan of Brunei has died at the age of 38, the government of Brunei has confirmed. Prince Azim, who was 4th in line to the throne, passed away on Saturday morning. While the cause of death has not been confirmed, his Wikipedia entry says he succumbed to a long illness.

CNN reports that the prince had made a name for himself as a Hollywood film producer, where he was known for hosting extravagant parties with celebrity guests that included Mariah Carey, Pamela Anderson, and Janet Jackson, among others. His success in film came despite international condemnation of his father’s harsh rule in Brunei, where parts of Sharia law are in force and capital punishment involves death by stoning.

The nation of Brunei has entered a 7-day mourning period, with leaders from neighbouring countries expressing their condolences on the death of the prince. A statement from the Indonesian embassy in Brunei said Prince Azim, “will always be remembered fondly.” The prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, described him as someone who was, “known for his kind and generous spirit, and for his dedication to charitable, educational, and youth causes.”

SOURCE: CNN

 

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Malaysian PM called to quit, criticised for “abuse of power” during Covid-19 crisis

Caitlin Ashworth

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Malaysian PM called to quit, criticised for “abuse of power” during Covid-19 crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook: Muhyiddin Yassin

While protesters in Thailand are calling on PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to resign, the Malaysia PM Muhyiddin Yassin is experiencing similar calls after he attempted to declare a state of emergency amid a rise in Covid-19 infections, but the request was rejected by the Malaysian King.

Some say the prime minister’s attempt to impose the order was intended to suspend parliament and “curb the government process”. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim recently claimed he had the majority of support in parliament and challenged the prime minister. He suggested the call for a state of emergency was to avoid a vote on the annual supply bill which he may have lost, effectively a vote of no confidence in the current PM and his government.

When Muhyiddin requested a state of emergency, Anwar said the Malaysian PM was trying to “curb the parliamentary process.” He said using the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to suspend sessions is an “abuse of power” and called the state of emergency request a “descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism.”

“A state of emergency is declared when there is a threat to our national security. But when the government is itself the source of that threat, then a state of emergency is nothing more than the descent into dictatorship and authoritarianism. I strongly advise Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to consider the legacy of these actions he is taking out of self interest and selfishness.”

Anwar released another media statement after the Malaysian King’s refusal saying it “affirms the strength of the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy.”

King Al-Sultan Abdullah rejected the emergency order request yesterday. The prime minister holds a slim majority in parliament, but with his request rejected by the King, his hold on power is now palpably weaker. Now some leaders are calling on Muhyiddin to resign.

Ahmad Puad Zarkashi, a senior leader in the United Malays National Organisation made a Facebook post calling on the prime minister to resign.

“Thankfully, His Majesty the King was not influenced by the political game that could drag the country into more critical territory… The people’s wellbeing is more important. By right, Muhyiddin should step down.”

Opposition lawmaker Wong Chen calls the proposal for a state of emergency “malicious” and says the prime minister should resign or fire ministers who proposed the emergency orders.

SOURCES: Reuters | Twitter: Anwar Ibrahim

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