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Asian Stocks Mixed as COVID-19 Economic Woes Continue to Bite

By Gina Lee – Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday as the International Monetary Fund warned overnight that the COVID-19-induced global lockdowns  will cause the steepest recession since the Great Depression.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.57 % by 10:45 PM ET (3:45 AM GMT) whilst Down Under the ASX 200 lost 0.48%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.59%. China’s Shanghai Composite slid 0.32% but the Shenzhen Component gained 0.34% as the country prepares to release GDP, industrial production and retail sales and jobless figures on Friday.

South Korea’s KOSPI is closed as the country heads to the polls to vote for National Assembly representatives.

A Bank of America survey said that investor sentiment over the virus’ economic impact was “extreme”, with cash positions at levels not seen since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

But as companies start their earnings seasons, investors will be taking their cues from the forward-looking data.

“It’s really going to be about forward guidance,” Erin Gibbs, president and CEO of Gibbs Wealth Management LLC, told Bloomberg. “What we’re really going to be looking for is, are companies giving us an idea of when they think they’ll return to profitability, or, are they talking about more layoffs?”

U.S. President Donald Trump also said overnight that he would issue state guidelines on reopening the U.S. economy in the following few days. But National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci warned that the target to reopen by May 1 is "a bit overly optimistic" for many parts of the U.S.

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