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These major international stock markets are on pace to end the first half in correction territory ⁠— or worse

A demonstrator wearing a face mask and gloves as a precaution during the protest. Art workers gathered in front of the Greek Parliament at Syntagma Square to demand support after the government announced that all the summer events, festivals, concerts and public gatherings will take place with strict limitations or have to be cancelled to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Dimitrios Manis | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

More than a dozen major international stock indexes are on pace to end the first half of the year at least over 10% off their recent highs, as surging coronavirus cases exacerbate fears about the speed and scale of an economic recovery.

Many countries across the globe have sought to tentatively relax lockdown restrictions through the second quarter, gradually loosening confinement measures in an effort to stimulate economic growth.

Nonetheless, coronavirus cases continue to rise worldwide, with the World Health Organization warning “the worst is yet to come” and asking countries not to speed through reopening businesses.

To date, more than 10.3 million people have contracted Covid-19, with 505,518 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

CNBC takes a look at the major international stock indexes that are set to end the first half of 2020 in correction territory — or worse.

To be sure, a correction refers to a 10% pullback in the value of a stock market index from its most recent peak, while a fall of 20% or more from recent highs reflects a bear market.


The WHO warned last week that coronavirus outbreaks in the Americas haven’t yet reached their peak, with the United Nations health agency saying many countries in North, South and Central America were still suffering sustained community transmission.

Brazil’s stock market index, the Bovespa, has rallied over 31% during the second quarter. But, despite significant gains over the last three months, it remains on track to end the first half of the year around 20% lower from a year-to-date closing high reached on January 23.

An aerial view of a nearly empty Saara region, a large shopping area in the center of the city during a lockdown aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic on March 24, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Buda Mendes | Getty Images

South America’s largest country has recorded the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, with over 1.3 million confirmed Covid-19 infections and 58,314 fatalities. Only the U.S. has recorded more cases of the coronavirus, with over 2.5 million cases so far.

Argentina’s leading Merval stock market index has slipped over 17%, after climbing to its year-to-date high on June 8. It has recorded far fewer coronavirus cases than neighboring Brazil, with around 50,000 Covid-19 infections confirmed to date.

The Merval has fallen away from its closing intraday high as talks between the government and international creditors to restructure $65 billion in debt hit a roadblock.

Meanwhile, Canada’s Toronto Stock Exchange composite index has dipped over 14% since climbing to a closing intraday high on February 20.


Hans Kluge, regional director for Europe at WHO, said in a statement in mid-June that it was important for political leaders to keep in mind that: “We are not out of the woods.”

He added that while social-distancing measures had gained countries some time to fight the virus, the European region accounted for around 31% of confirmed cases and 43% of deaths globally. Therefore, Kluge said it would be a “priority” for the WHO’s regional office for Europe to prepare for the fall.

Several European stock markets were set to end the first half of the year in correction territory, with Greece, Spain and Russia leading the region’s losses despite recording significant gains in the second quarter.

Greece’s ATHEX composite index has tumbled 33% since climbing to a closing intraday high on January 24. The southern European country, which has a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, is taking steps to lure visitors back to vacation hotspots in an effort to stimulate an economic recovery.

Greece’s tourism industry makes up roughly one-fifth of its economy, according to Reuters, and some economists are concerned that the economic impact of the pandemic could unravel progress made since the euro zone crisis a decade ago.

A woman wearing a sanitary mask as a preventive measure, leaving the train during the first day of work for non-essential sectors. Barcelona faces its 31st day of house confinement due to the contagion of Covid-19.

Paco Freire | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

Spain’s IBEX 35 was down almost 28% from its closing intraday high on February 19, while Russia’s dollar-denominated RTS stock market was down 24% from an intraday high reached on January 20.

The stock market indexes of Italy, Portugal and the U.K. also appeared set to end the first half of the year either close to or in bear market territory.

Italy’s FTSE MIB index was down 23% from a closing intraday high reached on February 19, Portugal’s PSI 20 index was almost 20% lower from the same date, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 was off 19% from its closing high recorded on July 29 last year.

France’s CAC 40 index, the pan-European Stoxx 600, Germany’s DAX and Switzerland’s SMI index were also all on course to end the first half in correction territory.


To date, India has recorded the fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, behind the U.S., Brazil and Russia respectively.

The rising number of cases in the country of more than 1.3 billion people comes as state governments begin to ease confinement measures in place since lockdown was first imposed in late March.

Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) chief Surjeet Singh Deswal during an inspection of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas Bhati Mines facility that is being prepared as a Covid-19 care centre, in Chhatarpur, on June 26, 2020 in New Delhi, India.

Sanjeev Verma | Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India’s Nifty 50 index has fallen more than 16% since registering a closing intraday high on January 14, leaving the stock market deep in correction territory as the end of the first half draws to a close.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index has slipped more than 16% since registering its closing intraday high on January 17.

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