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Asian Shares Fall After Coronavirus Outbreak In China

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Asian stocks fell broadly on Tuesday as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut global growth projections and China stepped up efforts to control a new coronavirus outbreak.

China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 43.65 points, or 1.4 percent, to 3,052.14, hitting a two-week low as worries grew about a new virus that has killed four people and sickened more than 200 so far.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index tumbled plunged 810.58 points, or 2.8 percent, to 27,985.33 after Moody's Investors Service lowered the city's credit rating and outlook, citing weaker than estimated institutional and governance strength in the backdrop of the ongoing socio-political unrest.

Japanese shares fell sharply as a new strain of pneumonia in China stoked fears of a wider epidemic that could hit the global economy. The Nikkei 225 Index declined 218.95 points, or 0.9 percent, to 23,864.56, while the broader Topix closed 0.5 percent lower at 1,734.97.

Airline and travel companies were hit by wider contagion fears. ANA Holdings gave up 2.2 percent, Japan Airlines lost 3 percent and H.I.S. slumped 5.1 percent. Cosmetic maker Shiseido fell 3.9 percent.

Markets showed a muted response to the Bank of Japan's decision to leave its key interest rate unchanged at a two-day policy review and upwardly revise its growth forecasts, citing the effects of fiscal stimulus.

Australian markets ended lower after five straight sessions of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 13.20 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,066.30, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 15.80 points, or 0.2 percent, 7,180.50.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac rose between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent. Mining giant BHP cut early losses to end on flat note after reporting a 3 percent rise in iron ore production.

Gold miners Evolution, Newcrest and Norther Star Resources climbed 1-2 percent as gold prices hit two-week high on news of the virus contagion risk in China.

Seoul stocks closed lower to snap a three-day winning streak as institutional investors offloaded large-cap stocks after news that three katyusha rockets fell close to the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital. The outbreak of a new coronavirus in China also weighed on markets. The benchmark Kospi dropped 22.95 points, or 1 percent, to 2,239.69.

Meanwhile, New Zealand shares advanced, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ending up 58.19 points, or 0.5 percent, at 11,805.14. Contact Energy shares jumped 2.7 percent.

U.S. markets were closed Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

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