“Thai, Asia stocks plunged”


TOKYO: Stock markets plunged in Thailand and around Asia on Monday, as panic selling set in with traders fretting over the economic impact of the new coronavirus and digesting a free-fall in the oil price.

Thailand’s benchmark SET index was down 5.07% to 1,295.35 at 10.10am.

Elsewhere, the Japanese market led the declines, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropping 4.30% or 892.90 points to 19,856.85 about 50 minutes after the opening bell, while the broader Topix index was down 4.13% or 60.74 points at 1,410.72.

Other markets in the region were also suffering with Hong Kong stocks down 3.8% at the open, Australia off more than 5% and equities in New Zealand and South Korea both down by just under 3%. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dived 1.56%.

Driving the declines was a ferocious sell-off in the oil markets sparked by top exporter Saudi Arabia slashing prices — in some cases to unprecedented levels — after a bust-up with Russia over oil production. The two main oil contracts were both down about 20% in morning Asian trade, with West Texas Intermediate sliding to around $32 a barrel and Brent crude to some $36 a barrel.

The foreign exchange markets were also extremely volatile, with traders snapping up the yen — seen as a hedge against global instability — and selling off the dollar amid uncertainty over coronavirus in the United States.

Marito Ueda, senior trader at FX Prime, told AFP: “Fears over the virus’s impact on the global economy and a plummet in US yields had investors seeking the safe-haven yen.”

“It is essentially flight from the dollar,” he added.

Source: Bangkok Post