Indian stock markets may continue to be under pressure following weak global cues. Asian shares slid on Monday and oil prices took another tumble as fears mounted that the global shutdown for the coronavirus (COVID-19) could last for months, doing untold harm to economies.

There was much uncertainty about whether funds would have to buy or sell for month and quarter end to meet their benchmarks, many of which would have been thrown out of whack by the wild market swings seen over March.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.2%, while South Korea shed 2.7%.

Central banks have mounted an all-out effort to bolster activity with rate cuts and massive asset-buying campaigns, which has at least eased liquidity strains in markets. Canada’s central bank on Friday surprised many with an emergency rate cut to 0.25% and a program of quantitative easing, while New Zealand policy makers on Monday launched a loan programme for corporates to meet liquidity needs.

While President Donald Trump had talked about reopening the US economy for Easter, on Sunday he extended guidelines for social restrictions to 30 April.

Japan on Monday expanded its entry ban to include citizens traveling from the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe.

Back home, the government on Sunday set up 11 empowered groups to draw up and execute a comprehensive plan to tackle the adverse impact of the coronavirus crisis. PK Mishra, principal secretary to the Prime Minister, reviewed a meeting of the groups on Sunday.

The wealth of corporate India’s top managers derived from employee stock ownership plan (Esop) has seen a massive erosion in value as the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed stock prices of companies to new lows, resulting in margin calls on loans availed to exercise these stock options.

Telecom regulator TRAI has given six weeks additional time to telecom companies to file monthly and quarterly reports that are otherwise due in April, a senior official said on Sunday.

Bond investors looked to be bracing for a long haul with yields at the very short end of the Treasury curve turning negative and those on 10-year notes dropping a steep 26 basis points last week to last stand at 0.66%. That drop has combined with efforts by the Federal Reserve to pump more US dollars into markets, and dragged the currency off recent highs.

Indeed, the dollar suffered its biggest weekly decline in more than a decade last week.

Against the yen, the dollar was pinned at 107.44, well off the recent high at 111.71. The euro was firm at $1.1126 after rallying more than 4% last week.

For now, the dollar’s retreat provided a fillip for gold, which was up 0.3% on Monday at $1,622.50 an ounce. But it has been little help for oil as Saudi Arabia and Russia show no signs of backing down in their price war.

Brent crude futures lost $1.45 to $23.48 a barrel, while US crude fell 91 cents to $20.60.

(Reuters contributed to the story)





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