Australia stocks drop about 2% as second quarter continues its rocky start for Asia Pacific markets

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

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.98% in morning trade as almost all the sectors saw losses. The heavily-weighted financial subindex dropped about 4.9% as shares of the country’s major banks sold off.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.47% while the Topix index shed 0.75%. South Korea’s Kospi edged lower.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.5% 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.

Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 973.65 points lower at 20,943.51 while the S&P 500 slid about 4.41% to end its trading day at 2,470.50. The Nasdaq Composite also shed 4.41% to close at about 7,360.58.

Oil prices surge

Oil prices jumped in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 4.32% to $25.81 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures contract also gained 4.58% to $21.24 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 99.527 after rising from levels below 99 earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.23 per dollar following lows above 108 seen earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6086 after slipping from levels above $0.612 yesterday.

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