World Shares Weaker As Virus Fears Overshadow US Stimulus

World Shares Weaker As Virus Fears Overshadow US Stimulus

(AP) -- Global shares retreated Monday as worsening coronavirus outbreaks overshadowed news that U.S. lawmakers finally set a deal on more support for American families and businesses.

Markets fell in Paris, London, Frankfurt and Tokyo but rose in Shanghai.

Passage by the Congress of the nearly $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package was expected later Monday. However, a resurgence of virus outbreaks around the globe has dented optimism that vaccines can bring a swift end to the pandemic.

Most investors had already factored in expectations for the fresh stimulus, Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.

“The tentative accord on the approximate $900 billion coronavirus stimulus deal, having been the talk of the town for weeks, brought forth little fresh enthusiasm for markets," Pan said.

Germany's DAX sank 2% to 13,357.27 and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 2.6% to 5,387.12. In Britain, where a strain of the coronavirus that is thought to be more easily transmissible has been spreading, the FTSE 100 gave up 1.4% to 6,436.30.

U.S. futures also weakened, with the contract for the S&P 500 down 0.6%. The future for the Dow industrials dropped 0.5%.

The gloom over the outlook has deepened, as s everal European Union nations banned flights from the U.K. and others considered similar precautions aimed at preventing the new strain of the virus from gaining a strong foothold on the continent.

The British pound, sometimes called the pound sterling, fell 1.8% against the dollar, to $1.3274, down from $1.3522 late Friday.

“Combined with European border closures and the UK Health Secretary using phrases such as 'out of control' to describe the new strain, Sterling is, unsurprisingly, under pressure today," Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said in a commentary.

In Asia, flaring COVID-19 outbreaks have led authorities to impose lockdowns or other restrictions in Australia and Thailand.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 0.2% to 26,714.42, regaining some of its earlier losses after the Cabinet approved a record annual budget of 106.6 trillion yen ($1.03 trillion) for the coming fiscal year, which begins April 1.

The budget, expected to gain lawmakers' approval next month, includes a ninth straight increase in defense outlays as Japan develops longer-range cruise missiles and stealth fighters to counter potential threats from China and North Korea. It also includes extra funding to fight the pandemic.

In Hong Kong the Hang Seng declined 0.7% to 26,306.68. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.1% to 6,669.90, while India's Sensex dropped 1.8% to 46,565.94.

South Korea's Kospi recovered from early losses, gaining 0.2% to 2,778.65. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.8% to 3,420.57.

Thailand's benchmark SET index lost 3.2% as a fresh outbreak of coronavirus cases clustered around a seafood market near Bangkok shook confidence in the country's pandemic precautions.

The U.S. stimulus agreement is includes temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefits and $600 direct stimulus payments to most Americans, along with a fresh round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and funding for schools, health care providers, and renters facing eviction.

The final agreement was reached after a breakthrough over Federal Reserve emergency powers was resolved by the Senate's top Democrat and a senior conservative Republican.

Wall Street retreated on Friday, with the S&P 500 losing 0.4% a day after it and other major indexes breached record highs.

The pandemic's chokehold on the economy has worsened, with reports showing growing numbers of workers applying for jobless benefits and weaker than expected sales for retailers.

Wall Street's hope is that the stimulus for the economy might help carry it through a tough winter, until the widespread rollout of COVID-19 vaccines might bring relief.

But it will be months before most people can get the shots, and the pandemic is likely to do even more damage in the interim.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 0.91% from 0.94% late Friday.

U.S. benchmark crude oil lost $1.69 to $47.55 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 70 cents to $49.24 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the international standard, declined $1.80 to $50.46 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 103.55 Japanese yen from 103.32 yen late Friday. The dollar's prolonged weakness against the yen has prompted Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to warn that the government did not want to see the dollar-yen rate fall below 100 yen, the financial newspaper Nikkei reported.

The euro slipped to $1.2197 from $1.2262.