NEW YORK, N.Y. – Asian stock markets and U.S. futures fell Monday after the Federal Reserve slashed its key interest rate to shore up economic growth in the face of mounting global anti-virus controls that are shutting down business and travel.
Sydney's benchmark plunged 7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 2%. Shanghai was down 0.5% and Tokyo was flat. Brent crude, the international oil standard, fell 3% while gold gained.
On Wall Street, futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 5% on Sunday night and triggered a halt in trading.
The Fed cut its key rate by a full percentage point — to a range between zero and 0.25% — and said it would stay there until it feels confident the economy can survive a near-shutdown of activity in the United States.
“Despite whipping out the big guns," the Fed's action is "falling short of being the decisive backstop for markets,” said Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a report. “Markets might have perceived the Fed's response as panic, feeding into its own fears.”
Japan's central bank was holding a policy meeting, convened several days earlier than planned. Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda has pledged to do whatever is needed to help buttress slumping economic growth after the economy contracted at a 7.1% annual rate in the last quarter, before the impact of the virus outbreak had even been felt.
Western governments have shut public facilities and imposed travel curbs, raising the cost of efforts to contain the outbreak that has infected nearly 170,000 people worldwide. China, where the coronavirus emerged in December, accounts for about half of those, but a dozen other countries have more than 1,000 cases each.
Spain followed Italy's lead in imposing nationwide curbs will allow its 46 million people to leave home only to go to work, to buy food and medicine or on errands to care for the young and elderly. In the Philippines, soldiers and police sealed off the crowded capital, Manila, from most domestic travelers.