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Global markets were in free fall Thursday after the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve dampened expectations for quick economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The indexes in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney sustained major losses to end their trading sessions — the Nikkei lost 2.8 percent, the Hang Seng was 2.2 percent lower, and the S&P/ASX lost 3 percent.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Shanghai composite lost 0.7 percent, Taiwan’s TSEC closed 1.5 percent lower, and the KOSPI index in Seoul lost 0.8 percent. Mumbai’s Sensex was losing 1.8 percent in late afternoon trading.
Across the world in Europe, the FTSE in London was down 2.6 percent, the CAC-40 in Paris was losing 3 percent, and the DAX index in Frankfurt was 2.8 percent lower in mid-morning trading.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the central bank is projecting unemployment in the U.S. would fall to 9.3 percent by the end of this year, and 6.5 percent by the end of 2021. Powell said lawmakers would have to take more direct action to help businesses and individuals severely harmed by the pandemic.
Oil markets were also in free fall Thursday, with U.S. crude selling at $38.16 per barrel, down 3.6 percent, while Brent crude, the international standard, selling at $40.35 per barrel, down 3.3 percent.
All three U.S. indexes were trending downward in futures trading, indicating Wall Street will begin its trading day in negative territory.