Global stocks and oil prices hit by Beijing lockdown fears

By Laura He, CNN Business

Global stocks and oil prices fell on Monday as rising Covid-19 cases in Beijing raised fears the Chinese capital could join Shanghai and other major cities in lockdown.

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite fell 5.1% to close at a 22-month low. It was the worst day for the index since Feb. 3, 2020, when the first coronavirus outbreak first rocked the domestic stock market.

Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 3.7%. The Japanese Nikkei fell 1.9% and the Korean Kospi lost 1.7%.

European stocks also opened sharply lower on Monday. The FTSE 100 fell 2.1% in London, while Germany’s DAX slipped 1.5%. The French CAC 40 fell by 2.2%, despite market relief following President Emmanuel Macron’s election victory over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.

The fall in Asian and European markets came after a dismal Friday session for US stocks. The Dow fell about 980 points, or 2.8%, following comments on likely aggressive interest rate hikes by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell more than 2.5%.

Fears over China’s worsening Covid-19 situation mount to bearish momentum. On Monday, Dow futures were down 305 points, or 0.9%, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were both down 1%.

Beijing, the capital of China with 21 million people, began mass testing over the weekend and closed residential complexes, raising fears that tougher restrictions will soon be implemented in line with reports. other Chinese cities.

“Although parts of China have been under restrictions longer than Shanghai, Omicron’s arrival in Beijing would be a worrying development,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market strategist for Oanda, wrote on Monday.

“China is the world’s second largest economy and has shown no signs that it intends to live with the virus,” he said. “With that in mind, the likely pressure valve is going to be a disruption in China’s export machine and a crater in consumer confidence.”

Oil prices fell on Monday as worries about a faster U.S. rate hike and slowing China weighed on sentiment. U.S. oil futures and Brent, the international benchmark, both fell more than 4%.

“It looks like China is the elephant in the room and markets believe slowing Chinese growth could significantly alter the supply/demand equation in international markets,” Halley said.

The push to contain the outbreak in Beijing comes as cases continue to grow in Shanghai. The lockdown in Shanghai has already forced many factories to suspend production and worsened shipping delays, threatening to cause a major shock to its vast economy and put more strain on global supply chains.

Shanghai reported more than 19,000 new cases and 51 deaths on Sunday.

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Felix J. Dixon