Stocks fell in the US and Europe on Wednesday as new outbreaks in Germany and Japan and a “disturbing surge” in the US raised fears about a spike in coronavirus cases across the world.
Reports that the US is considering new tariffs on $3.1bn (£2.5bn) worth of exports from France, Germany, Spain, and the UK also dented the mood of investors.
Late on Tuesday, officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia imposed a second localised lockdown after more than 1,500 workers at a meat processing plant tested positive for coronavirus.
The number of daily infections in Tokyo on Tuesday reached their highest level in nearly two months, while Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top infectious diseases expert, warned that the US was experiencing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus cases.
Seven US states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — reported a record number of coronavirus hospitalisations on Tuesday.
“This isn’t a second wave, but rather a continuation of the first,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex.
“Understandably investors were rather worried about this news, especially since it follows on from the recent outbreak in Beijing, a new cluster of cases in Tokyo, a record one-day total for new cases in Mexico and Monday’s reports that Germany’s R rate has crossed the crucial 1 level due to thousands of cases at an abattoir,” he said.
The declines in Europe followed a broadly positive session in Asia, where stocks overall touched a four-month high.
Futures were pointing to a lower open for US stocks on Wednesday.