Global stocks decline, US futures lower, but GameStop jumps

Global stock prices tumbled Friday amid worries about rising coronavirus cases, Wall Street volatility and U.S. economic aid plans.

Markets in London, Paris and Frankfurt all dropped 1% or more while the Tokyo exchange saw a nearly 2% decline. Futures for U.S. indexes fell further after Johnson & Johnson released results showing its one-shot vaccine protected against COVID-19 though it wasn’t as strong as some two-shot rivals.

The U.S. markets could see more volatility surrounding video game vendor GameStop and other stocks that have become favorites of smaller investors who’ve pushed some of the companies to dizzying heights given their business prospects. In premarket trading, GameStop shares jumped 76%, movie theater operator AMC Entertainment rose 40% and headphone Koss gained 57%.

Elsewhere, investors watched virus infection spikes in Europe and Asia, renewed travel curbs and negotiations in Washington over President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion economic aid package.

“We are still moving towards a recovery from the pandemic, just a heck of a lot bumpier than anyone had expected,” said Stephen Innes of Axi in a report.

In midday trading, the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.3% to 6,440.25 while Frankfurt’s DAX lost 1.4% to 13,470.33. The CAC 40 in Paris tumbled 1.6% to 5,421.64.

On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was off about 1% while the S&P 500 future showed a decline of 0.8%.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 on Thursday rose out of the red for the year as investors watched wild swings in GameStop, which skidded 44.3%. Cinema chain AMC and other stocks that have become targets for online traders also gyrated.

Several fell after Robinhood and other trading platforms restricted trading, causing an outcry by some customers. Robinhood has restored some trading in the shares Friday, which has prompted their gains in the premarket.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.6% to 3,483.70 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 0.6% to 28,369.67.

After trading closed, the Hong Kong government announced preliminary estimates showed the territory’s economy contracted by 6.1% in 2020. It said output fell 3% in the final quarter compared with a year earlier.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 1.9% to 27,663.39 after the government reported December factory output fell 1.6% from the previous month in the second straight decline.

The Kospi in Seoul tumbled 3% to 2,976.21 and the S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney lost 0.6% to 6,607.40.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 35 cents to $52.69 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the price standard for international oils, shed 6 cents to $55.04 per barrel in London.