Asia Markets Take Fresh Hit as Virus Surge Trumps Vaccine Hope

Hong Kong, Nov 13 (AFP/APP): A spike in coronavirus infections across the United States and Europe hit Asian markets again Friday as traders fear another wave of lockdown measures will throw an already shaky economic recovery off course.

The rally fuelled by excitement over a possible vaccine before 2021 and relief at Joe Biden’s US election win has given way to the reality that while there is light at the end of the tunnel, the killer disease remains rampant. Several European economies including England and France have already been all but shut down to contain a fresh eruption, but they continue to record frighteningly high numbers of new cases — raising the possibility the measures could be extended.

And major US cities including New York and Chicago are being forced to act as leaders worry that the northern hemisphere winter will be more deadly than spring. This all means economies that had started to see signs of life after a searingly bad first half of the year could stumble again, with some observers indicating the world will see a so-called W-shaped recovery. Top US health adviser Anthony Fauci said while he was confident vaccines would bring an end to the pandemic, it was crucial that people “hang on and continue to double down on the public health measures”.

All three main indexes on Wall Street finished in the red, though the Nasdaq fared slightly better as tech firms benefit from bets on people using gadgets while stuck at home. Those losses seeped into Asia, where profit-taking also played a role after a week-long rally. Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore, Manila and Mumbai were all in the red, though there were gains in Seoul, Taipei, Wellington and Jakarta.

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