Asia Markets

Australia drops more than 2% as Asia stocks slip; IMF slashes forecasts again

Key Points
  • Stocks in Asia Pacific slipped on Thursday.
  • The International Monetary Fund slashed its economic forecasts again on Wednesday. It now estimates a contraction of 4.9% in global gross domestic product in 2020, lower than the 3% fall it predicted in April.
  • Investor reaction to overnight moves on Wall Street was also watched on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling more than 700 points.The moves stateside came following a surge in coronavirus cases in certain states, with Florida and California reporting a record number of new cases.
  • Markets in China and Hong Kong were closed on Thursday for a holiday.

Stocks in Asia Pacific dropped on Thursday after the International Monetary Fund slashed its economic forecasts again.

Shares in Australia led losses among the region's major markets, with the S&P/ASX 200 falling 2.48% to close at 5,817.70.

South Korea's Kospi also saw a substantial decline as it dropped 2.27% to end its trading day at 2,112.37. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slipped 1.22% to close at 22,259.79 while the Topix index shed 1.18% on the day to 1,561.85.

Over in Southeast Asia, the Straits Times index in Singapore fell 1.55% in afternoon trade.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index slipped 0.9%.

In corporate news, shares of Olympus in Japan soared 11.15% on Thursday after the firm announced Wednesday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with investment fund Japan Industrial Partners to sell its camera division.

Markets in China and Hong Kong were closed on Thursday for a holiday.

IMF cuts economic forecasts

The IMF now estimates a contraction of 4.9% in global gross domestic product in 2020, lower than the 3% fall it predicted in April.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast," the IMF said Wednesday in its World Economic Outlook update.

"In the month of May — every single economy we track, over a hundred — was deemed to be in recession," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday.

"Typically in recessions globally you have one part of the world, major part of the world, that navigates the recession reasonably well, comes out the other side and is the engine of … growth in the economic recovery," Zandi said. "There's no obvious engine of growth here."

Investor reaction to overnight moves on Wall Street was also watched on Thursday. The Dow fell 710.16 points, or 2.7%, to close at 25,445.94. The S&P 500 finished its trading day 2.6% lower at 3,050.33 while the Nasdaq Composite slid 2.2% to close at 9,909.17. It was the worst day for the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq since June 11.

The moves stateside came following a surge in coronavirus cases in certain states, with Florida and California reporting a record number of new cases. More than 2.36 million coronavirus cases have been reported in the U.S. while at least 121,662 lives have been taken, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 97.299 after touching an earlier high of 97.336.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.12 per dollar in a volatile trading week that has seen it at levels below 106.4 against the greenback to its earlier low of 107.25. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6862 after slipping from levels above $0.69 seen yesterday.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours on Thursday, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 1.07% to $39.88 per barrel. U.S. crude futures shed 1.05% to $37.61 per barrel.

— CNBC's Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.