US stock markets fell overnight to close out the worst quarter since the 2008 financial crisis. The S&P 500 dropped 1.6%, bringing its loss for the first three months of the year to 20%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its biggest quarterly drops since 1987, plunging 23%. On the day, the Dow dropped 1.8%, and the Nasdaq declined by almost 1%.
In Asia, equities were mostly lower on Wednesday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 plunging 4.5% after the Bank of Japan’s Tankan survey showed that the big manufacturer’s index came in at -8 in the first quarter, which is the lowest level since March 2013. In China, the Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI for March came in at 50.1, above expectations of 45.5 versus 40.3 in February. The Shanghai Composite lost nearly 0.6% during the session. Elsewhere, Hong Kong-listed shares of HSBC and Standard Chartered dipped 9% and nearly 7%, respectively, after the two UK banks canceled dividend payments at the request of the financial regulator.
European shares that have posted their worst quarter since 2002, opened lower to start a new month and quarter. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell nearly 3% as weak economic data from Asia underlined the risks the global economy faces amid the coronavirus outbreak. Spain’s IBEX 35 saw the biggest plunge of all the major regional indexes, shedding almost 29% to post its worst-ever quarter.
Elsewhere, the UK manufacturing PMI arrived at 47.8 in March versus 47.0 expected. The GBPUSD pair came off daily lows at 1.2330 after the release but remained in the negative territory as dollar demand persists ahead of the ADP employment data due later today. Also, traders will focus on the PMIs out of the United States, and weak numbers may cool the enthusiasm in the near term.
In other markets, oil prices extend losses after yesterday’s failed recovery attempts. Brent crude briefly dipped below the $25 handle which is in traders’ focus now, as a decisive break under this level will pave the way towards fresh long-term lows. The market remains depressed as the coronavirus pandemic derails oil demand further while OPEC+ countries don’t show any signs of actions to support the struggling market.