Global Stocks Fall on Virus Worries

BEIJING (AP) -- Global stock prices tumbled Friday amid worries about rising coronavirus cases, Wall Street volatility and U.S. economic aid plans.

London and Frankfurt opened lower while Shanghai and Tokyo also retreated.

Overnight, Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index gained 1%, recovering some of its loss from the previous day's 2.6% fall after American unemployment data were better than expected. The future for the S&P fell 1.2% after trading hours, denting expectations about how long that run might last.

U.S. markets were roiled by a spate of trading by small investors of video game vendor GameStop that hurt hedge funds that bet the stock would fall.

Elsewhere, investors watched virus infection spikes in Europe and Asia, renewed travel curbs and negotiations in Washington over President Joe Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion economic aid package.

“We are still moving towards a recovery from the pandemic, just a heck of a lot bumpier than anyone had expected,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report.

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 1% to 6,457.27 while Frankfurt's DAX lost 1.1% to 13,510.71. The CAC 40 in Paris tumbled 1.3% to 5,441.20.

On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off just over 1%.

That “raised doubts” among investors “about the longevity of the main session rally,” said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 on Thursday rose out of the red for the year as investors watched wild swings in GameStop, which skidded 44.3%. Cinema chain AMC and other stocks that have become targets for online traders also gyrated.

Several fell after Robinhood and other trading platforms restricted trading, causing an outcry by some customers.

The Dow gained 1% while the Nasdaq composite added 0.5%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% to 3,483.70 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 0.6% to 28,369.67.

After trading closed, the Hong Kong government announced preliminary estimates showed the territory's economy contracted by 6.1% in 2020. It said output fell 3% in the final quarter compared with a year earlier.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 1.9% to 27,663.39 after the government reported December factory output fell 1.6% from the previous month in the second straight decline.

The Kospi in Seoul tumbled 3% to 2,976.21 and the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney lost 0.6% to 6,607.40.

India's Sensex retreated 0.3% to 46,710.70. New Zealand advanced while Southeast Asian markets declined.

Also Thursday, U.S. government data showed 847,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week, fewer than expected.

Hopes are high for Biden's aid package, but worries grew that the plan might be scaled back under pressure from Republican legislators.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 24 cents to $52.10 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 51 cents on Thursday to close at $52.34. Brent crude, the price standard for international oils, shed 6 cents to $55.04 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 104.57 Japanese yen from Thursday's 104.24 yen. The euro declined to $1.2099 from $1.2115.