- European stocks fell on Wednesday as investors braced for the first-quarter earnings season that should provide more of a sense of how the coronavirus pandemic will affect businesses and the global economy.
- US stocks were lower with the expectation of a painful quarterly earnings season and a sharp fall in the price of oil.
- Asian stocks fell broadly after the International Monetary Fund said the global economy will likely contract by about 3% in 2020 amid the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
- Total industrial production in the United States slumped 5.4% from a month earlier in March 2020, the largest drop since January 1946 and compared to market expectations of a 4% plunge. Manufacturing output fell 6.3%, the most since February 1946, as the coronavirus pandemic led many factories to suspend operations late in the month. The declines were led by a 28.0% tumble in motor vehicles and parts output.
- Retail sales in the US plunged 8.7% month-over-month in March of 2020, following a downwardly revised 0.4% drop in February and worse than market forecasts of a 8% drop. It is the biggest decline on record, in a sign that the coronavirus impact on the economy may be harder than anticipated. The biggest decreases were recorded for clothing (-50.5%).
- Oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday, after EIA data showed US crude stocks rose at a record pace for the second consecutive week, in line with API data released yesterday that showed the biggest increase in inventories for over three years. Prices were already under pressure after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said oil demand is seen slumping by a 29 million barrel per day in April to levels not seen in 25 years, which would far exceed an agreement by major oilproducing countries to cut output by a record 9.7 million barrels per day. The US crude was down 2.6% at $19.6 a barrel, after touching its lowest level since 2002 earlier in the session, and Brent slumped nearly 7% to $27.5 a barrel.
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