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Stocks shaky after worst Wall Street crash since 1987

Logo - The Daily Drill - Digging Deep for precious metal news

By Marc Jones

LONDON, March 17 (Reuters) - World share markets and oil prices struggled on Tuesday after coronavirus panic caused Wall Street's worst one-day rout since the Black Monday crash of 1987.

In Europe, early 1.5.% to 3% gains in London, Frankfurt and Paris were quickly wiped out as airline and travel stocks suffered a 6.5% drubbing.

The dollar recouped some lost ground against the safe-haven Japanese yen. Oil gave up attempted gains after Brent's drop below $30 a barrel on Monday.

"We saw quite a staggering drop yesterday, so it might just be a bit of calm after that storm," said Rabobank analyst Bas Van Geffen. "But we are not sure."

Financial markets cratered on Monday with the S&P 500 tumbling 12%. Emergency central bank rate cuts globally only added to the investor panic.

Tuesday's stabilization saw Australian shares close 5.9% higher, their biggest daily percentage gain since October 2008, after plunging nearly 10% on Monday.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares and Japan's Nikkei both finished steady. South Korea finished down 2.4%, however, and the Philippines became the first country to suspend all trading over the virus.

Futures trade still pointed to a positive open in U.S. markets. The S&P 500 e-minis, were up 1%, although earlier they had been up 3.8%.

Some $2.7 trillion in market value was wiped from the S&P 500 on Monday as it suffered its third-largest daily percentage decline on record. Over the past 18 days, the benchmark index has lost $8.3 trillion. World stocks have hemorrhaged over 15 trillion.

"The move in U.S. stock futures prompted some buying of battered down shares and lifted dollar/yen," said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

"The focus is shifting to the fiscal response to the virus. We're locked in a pattern where markets bounce and then resume falling."


Gold, which is normally bought as a safe haven, extended declines on Tuesday as some investors chose to sell whatever they could to keep their money in cash.

The U.S. Federal Reserve stunned investors with another emergency rate cut on Sunday, prompting other central banks to ease policy in the biggest coordinated response since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

Investors, however, are worried that many have used up their ammunition and that more draconian restrictions on personal movement are necessary to contain the global coronavirus outbreak.

Group of Seven finance ministers are expected to hold a call on Tuesday night. Markets want to see public health progress as well as fiscal stimulus.

"I think the priorities of the governments around the world will probably move away from economic growth towards containing the virus," said Jim McCafferty, Nomura's joint head of APAC equity research.

"Safety of national citizens might become a bigger priority. But with that they want to keep the economies in a working situation."

Traders are also looking to data due later, which is forecast to show German investor sentiment tumbled in March.

The United States will release retail sales and industrial production for February, but that is unlikely to reflect the impact of the coronavirus just yet.

Some investors say markets will not settle unless the U.S. government announces a big fiscal spending package to match the Fed's rate cuts and efforts to keep credit markets functioning.

Others say liquidity in some financial markets is starting to fall because there's such a high degree of uncertainty, meaning even some of the usual safe havens may not be that safe.

In the currency market, the dollar rose 0.5% to 106.40 yen , after a 2% decline the day before, when the Fed's rate cut rippled through financial markets.

Germany's benchmark 10-year Bund yield rose to a one-month high in bond markets on growing expectations of a government spending blast.

Long-dated German bond yields have jumped 50 basis points from record lows hit just over a week ago. Borrowing costs in France and Spain have hit their highest since last May.

(Additional reporting by Stanley White in Tokyo)

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