Asian markets were mostly lower in early trade. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ( dropped 4.2%, the worst performer in the region. Hong Kong’s )Hang Seng ( fell 1%, while China’s )Shanghai Composite ( declined 0.7%. South Korea’s )Kospi ( was last down 0.1%, reversing gains from earlier in the morning. )
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 is the only major benchmark in the region remaining in the green. By mid-afternoon in Sydney, it was trading up 1.1%.
US stock futures, meanwhile, traded lower after earlier recording slight gains. Dow ( futures were last down 136 points, or 0.7%. )S&P 500 ( futures were down 0.9%, while Nasdaq futures were down 0.7%. )
The poor showing during Asian trading hours Thursday comes after the Dow and S&P 500 posted their first back-to back gains since February. The Nasdaq Composite finished down just 0.5%.
That momentum came after US lawmakers appeared to reach a deal on a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill early Wednesday morning aimed at helping individuals and companies amid the coronavirus crisis.
But on Thursday, US jobless claims will highlight just how badly the economy has been hit by coronavirus. Economists expect 1 million people to have filed for unemployment benefits in the week ended March 21, which would be the highest ever recorded, and some believe the number could be even higher.
Shares in SoftBank (, meanwhile, plunged as much as 9% in Tokyo on Thursday, ending a two-day bull run. The stock had advanced some 50% after SoftBank announced on Monday that it would sell $41 billion worth of assets to buy back stock and reduce debt. )
Then on Wednesday, ratings agency Moody’s pushed Softbank deeper into junk status, downgrading the company’s credit rating from Ba1 to Ba3. Moody’s said selling assets just as the market is being roiled by uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic would reduce the value of SoftBank’s portfolio.
SoftBank pushed back against the downgrade, saying Moody’s “ignored” the company’s explanations and statements to the market, and accused the agency of having “biased and mistaken views.”
— Sherisse Pham and Anneken Tappe contributed to this report.