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Asian Markets Fall as COVID-19 Uncertainty Increases

By Alex Ho

Investing.com - Asian markets took sharp tumbles across the board Monday morning as the number of COVID-19 cases rose sharply around the world over the weekend.

Globally, there are now 294,110 confirmed cases and 12,944 deaths as of March 22 according to the World Health Organisation.

The S&P/ASX 200 led losses with a tumble of 7.34% by 10:25 PM ET (2:25 AM GMT).

China’s Shanghai Composite lost 2.84% while the Shenzhen Component was down by 2.82%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down by 4.99%.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s KOSPI is down by 5.30%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 was the sole bright spot as it gained 0.22% after coming back from Friday’s national holiday.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) strategists Kamakshya Trivedi and Zach Pandl warned in a Sunday note that markets are “pricing a global recession, which we expect; stay defensive.”

“The uncertainties around the depth and duration of the hit to the global economy remain high and the momentum in our own, and other, economic forecasts continues to be sharply negative with downside risks,” they added.

Adding to this uncertainty, in the U.S. Democrats blocked an aid package that could top $1 trillion as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure fell short of her goals.

Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG, told Bloomberg: “What we were hoping would be a U-shape, we are starting to fear could be an L-shape.”

She added that the range of dispersions in forecasts for the economic impact “does illustrate how unprecedented this situation is - it’s a health crisis that’s started morphing into a financial crisis.”

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