March 9 2020
Asian stock markets plunged today, mostly due to Covid-19 fear and the free-fall of oil price.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index dropped 5.10% or 1,058.06 points to 19,691.69 this morning, while the broader Topix index was off 5.01% or 73.69 points to 1,397.77.
At opening, Hong Kong stocks were down 3.8%, Australia (5%), Shanghai (1.56%) and Philippine (4%).
Sell-off in the oil markets started after top exporter Saudi Arabia slashed prices after disagreement with Russia over production.
Two main oil contracts went down by about 20% – West Texas Intermediate to around $32 a barrel and Brent crude to $36 a barrel.
Traders flee to buy the yen, a safe haven during global instability while selling off the dollar as the Covid-19 fear spread across the United States.
The dollar fetched 104.15 yen in early Tokyo time, after dipping to around 103.83 yen in Sydney time, the lowest level since November 2016
The fact that the Japanese economy had declined more than initially expected was another negative factor for the markets.