Asia Pacific markets trade mixed as the second quarter’s rocky start continues

Stocks in Asia Pacific traded mixed on Thursday morning as global markets continue their rocky start to the second quarter.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.61% as almost all the sectors saw losses. The heavily-weighted financial subindex dropped more than 3% as shares of the country’s major banks sold off.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.15% as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing slipped 1.36% while the Topix index shed 0.83%.

Mainland Chinese stocks recovered from earlier losses to trade in positive territory, with the Shanghai composite up 0.34% while the Shenzhen composite advanced 0.52%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was slightly higher by 0.16%, even though shares of HSBC were down 3.13%.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.5%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.31% lower.

Markets in India are closed on Thursday for a holiday.

Concerns over the economic impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has roiled markets in recent weeks, continue to weigh on investor sentiment. The rapid spread of the disease across the world has resulted in drastic measures by authorities such as widespread lockdowns that have left economies effectively frozen in many places globally.

So far, more than 932,000 people have been infected worldwide while at least 42,000 lives have been taken by the virus, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.

“Even though we think that the markets have more or less stabilized and you’re not likely to see the very violent gyrations of the last two weeks, when markets were swinging anywhere between 10 to 12%, the outlook for the rest of this quarter or the second quarter will basically depend on how the rate of infection actually pans out in the U.S. and in Europe itself,” Kelvin Tay, regional chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.

Oil prices jump

Oil prices jumped in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 5.74% to $26.16 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures contract also gained 4.63% to $21.25 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.673 after rising from levels below 99 earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.44 per dollar following lows above 108 seen earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6074 after slipping from levels above $0.612 yesterday.

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