TOKYO – Shares skidded in Asia on Thursday after a sharp retreat overnight on Wall Street as new coronavirus cases in the U.S. climbed to their highest level in two months, dimming investors' hopes for a relatively quick economic turnaround.
Markets in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai were closed for holidays.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 slipped 1.3% to 22,234.80 and the Kospi in Seoul lost 1.8% to 2,122.48. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 sank 2% after its biggest airline, Qantas, announced it plans to cut at least 6,000 jobs and keep 15,000 more workers on extended furloughs to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline said it will slash costs by billions of dollars and raise fresh capital, while grounding 100 planes for a year or more and immediately retiring its six remaining Boeing 747 planes.
Markets fell in Southeast Asia, with Bangkok's SET index losing 0.9%.
Overnight, the S&P 500 fell 2.6% to 3,050.33, giving back all of its gains for the month. The selling followed a skid in European stock indexes. It accelerated on news that New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will require visitors from nine states with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.
The rise in new infections is stoking worries that reopenings of businesses closed earlier to fight the pandemic may have to be curtailed, despite indications that economies are recovering from lockdowns that are being eased in the U.S. and other countries.
“A huge problem for investors is that volatility is too expensive to buy right now, so they are finding it easier just to cut and run from their stock market positions," Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a commentary.