Pompeo did not provide evidence, or dispute US Intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the virus was not man-made. But the comments double down on Washington’s pressure on China over the virus’ origin as US deaths and economic damage mount.
A $50 billion dollar quarterly loss at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and the legendary investor announcement that he had liquidated holdings in the four largest US airlines also did little for investor confidence.
“The risk of a pullback has increased this week,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone.
“The United States is not alone in publicly taking aim at China, but whether it’s Trump, Kudlow or Pompeo the narrative is more frequent, and traders are selling yuan,” he said.
With onshore markets shut, the yuan extended Friday’s slump and fell about 0.2 percent to a six-week low of 7.1510 per dollar. The Australian dollar dropped below the 64-cent mark for the first time in a week, falling 0.5 percent to $0.6387.
The Korean won sat by a one-week low at 1,224.76 per dollar, after an exchange of gunfire between North Korea and South Korea at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) raised tensions, a day after North Korean state media reported Kim Jong Un’s first public appearance since 11 April.
Elsewhere in currency markets, the Japanese yen was steady at 106.80 per dollar and the euro was a touch weaker at $1.0969. The pound and New Zealand dollar slipped.
In commodity markets, US crude futures sank in early trade on worries about oil oversupply, even as some US states and cities around the world start to ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures last sat at $18.59 per barrel, down $1.19, while Brent futures were down 2.4 percent, or 64 cents, at $25.80.
US manufacturing plunged to an 11-year low last month, consumer spending has collapsed and some 30.3 million Americans have filed claims for unemployment in the last six weeks.
“There is a sense of caution, if not foreboding as signs of economic weakness continue to emanate,” said Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.
“What’s really chilling is the risk that an almost quadrupling of unemployment to above 16 percent may prove sticky.”
The US April jobs report will be released on Friday, but some analysts say it may not fully reflect how many people have been thrown out of work.