The delta variant of the coronavirus may herald a bout of weakness for markets across the globe, with few analysts predicting a swift rebound as tighter curbs on movements cloud the growth outlook.
The MSCI Asean Index of equities headed for its weakest close in seven months, while Indonesia’s rupiah and the Thai baht slid to multi-month lows. Renewed lockdowns prolonged declines for the Australian dollar and the South African rand, which is this month’s worst performer among emerging-market currencies.
Risk assets are contending with a reversal in fortunes as the spread of the more infectious delta strain coincides with growing expectations for the Federal Reserve to start withdrawing stimulus. The transmission of the virus from Australia to Indonesia is raising fears that the nascent global growth recovery may be derailed.
“We might justifiably ask whether investors should question the consensus of a return to anything that resembles pre-Covid normality, or at the very least, whether we might need to endure rolling and haphazard restrictions that will last for years,” Viktor Shvets, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Ltd. in Hong Kong, wrote in a note. “The probability of a Black Swan event is rising.”
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