Global stock markets crashed on Friday, ending a years-long bull run, with coronavirus panic selling hitting almost every asset class and leaving investors nowhere to hide.
Half a trillion dollars in liquidity from the U.S. Federal Reserve and the promise of more were not enough to calm the fear that has wiped some $14 trillion from world stocks in a month.
On Friday, Japanese stocks were in free fall and markets from Seoul to Jakarta punched through downlimit circuit breakers.
The Nikkei dropped as far as 10% and is heading for its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Not one stock on the index is in positive territory.
Losses were equally staggering outside Japan, driving MSCI’s broad Asia-Pacific index back to where it was in 2017. Gold and oil fell and once-safe sovereign bonds slumped as investors liquidated everything they could to cover losses.
Even after its worst crash since Black Monday in 1987 overnight, Dow futures are down about 3% in Asia, as are S&P 500 futures.
“There is a sense of fear and panic,” said James Tao, an analyst at stockbroker Commsec in Sydney, where phones at the high-value client desk rang non-stop.
“It’s one of those situations where there is so much uncertainty that no-one quite knows how to respond…if it’s fight or flight, many people are choosing flight at the moment.”
Australia’s benchmark fell as far as 8% and is set for its worst week on record. In South Korea, the won was shredded and the Kospi fell 7.7%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 5%. China’s Shanghai composite fell 3%.
In currency markets, the dollar was king and Asian currencies haemorrhaged as fears of systemic risks drove demand for the world’s reserve currency.
Majors stabilised after furious dollar buying overnight, with the euro finding footing around $1.1200 and the Aussie recovering to $0.6300.
Emerging market currencies were punished: the won and baht dropped 1% and the rupiah 2%.