Dollar surges, stocks fall as ECB fails to stop panic


dollar, ECB, coronavirus, covid-19, stock market, government bonds

Singapore - The ECB on Wednesday pledged to buy 750 billion euro in bonds through 2020.

By Reuters

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Published: Thu 19 Mar 2020, 7:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 19 Mar 2020, 9:54 AM

The dollar surged, bonds plunged and global markets struggled to find their footing on Thursday as the European Central Bank's latest promise of stimulus provided only brief solace while the world struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. stock futures EScv1 fell 2%. The Australian dollar was crushed, falling 3.3% to a more than 17-year low, and Asian markets gave up initial gains made after the ECB had announced a bond-buying program.
By midmorning, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had fallen 4% to an almost four-year low. Australia's benchmark erased an early 3% rise to trade 2% in the red.
Korea's Kospi fell 6% and the won hit a decade-low even as the central bank was buying dollars to prop up the currency. Markets in Hong Kong and China fell.
"We're in this phase where investors are just looking to liquidate their positions," said Prashant Newnaha, senior interest rate strategist at TD Securities in Singapore.
Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 5% and is down nearly 30% over a month. Household-name blue chips plunged, with General Motors and Boeing, each symbols of U.S. industrial might, losing more than 17% in a single day.
The ECB on Wednesday pledged to buy 750 billion euro ($820 billion) in bonds through 2020, with Greek debt and non-financial commercial paper eligible under the program for the first time.
It follows emergency interest rate cuts around the globe, enormous fiscal support packages and six central banks promising discount dollars to alleviate a squeeze in greenback funding.
But so far none of it has been able to put a floor under dire sentiment, and some $15 trillion in shareholder value has been wiped out in little more than a month of heavy selling.
"Liquidity is not the problem this time around," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at brokerage CMC Markets in Sydney.
"This is about the impact on demand and the disruption of global supply chain...(bond buying) is not speaking directly to the key problem for markets."

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