Are global stocks headed for a bear market?

28 February, 2020

Global stock markets are spiralling downwards, with the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 both entering correction territory, after each fell by another 4.42 percent respectively. The MSCI Asia Pacific index is set to close out the week on the back of seven consecutive days of losses, with just a single day of gains to show over the last 12 trading days.

Equity investors have finally been jolted into action after weeks of seemingly paying little heed to the warnings about the coronavirus' potential to negatively impact earnings. Market participants are joining in the fierce selloff even as they are still flying blind amid the swirling uncertainties about how long the coronavirus outbreak will last, how many countries would be ensnared and how deep its impact on global economic and business conditions.

China PMI could set the immediate market tone for March


Even as some segments of the its economy come back online, China’s February PMI data due Saturday could serve as the next marker for risk sentiment. Confirmation that the coronavirus is pulling the brakes on the world’s second largest economy could spell another leg down for risk assets, while better-than-expected data could deflate some of the selling pressure.

If Covid-19 morphs into a severe pandemic, that could herald a bear market for equities, which is usually accompanied by a recession, although it is not the market’s base case at this point in time. The sooner the coronavirus outbreak can show signs of stabilising, the greater the potential revival in risk appetite, while allowing a longer runway for the global economy to be restored in 2020.


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