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Asian Shares Fall Due To Virus Fears

asianmarket 021219 13feb20 lt

Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Thursday as the fight against the novel coronavirus in China took a turn for the worse after the adoption of new methodology for counting infections.

Chinese shares ended lower to snap a seven-day rally after some 242 deaths from the new coronavirus were recorded in the Chinese province of Hubei on Wednesday - the bulk of it due to a reclassification. There was also a huge increase in the number of cases, with 14,840 people diagnosed with the virus.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 20.83 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,906.07, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 93.66 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 27,730.

Japanese stocks gave up early gains to end lower after China's Hubei province reported a sharp increase in the number of new coronavirus cases. The Nikkei 225 Index slipped 33.48 points, or 0.1 percent, to 23,827.73, while the broader Topix closed 0.3 percent lower at 1,713.08.

Export-related stocks finished broadly lower as the safe-haven yen firmed against the dollar. Market heavyweight SoftBank fell 5 percent after surging almost 12 percent in the previous session in response to a U.S. federal judge's approval of a takeover of its Sprint unit by T-Mobile.

On the other hand, Taiko Pharmaceutical soared 6.8 percent after the drug maker raised its operating profit forecast for the year ending in March.

Semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron climbed 2.1 percent to a record high after chip equipment maker Applied Materials forecast second-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street estimates.

Australian markets pared gains to end off their day's highs as investors reacted to news of a big jump in coronavirus deaths and infections in China.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index edged up 15.00 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,103.20, after powering to a record 7,145.80 in early trading. The boarder All Ordinaries Index inched up 19.30 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,204.60.

Property group Goodman Group surged 5.8 percent after upgrading its earnings guidance. Utility AGL Energy rallied 3.6 percent after its half-year profit beat forecasts.

Caltex Australia climbed 2.4 percent after its Canadian suitor sweetened its takeover offer. National Australia Bank rose 1.4 percent after its unaudited cash earnings for the first quarter came in slightly higher than analysts' estimates.

Meanwhile, Treasury Wine Estates tumbled 5.7 percent after the release of its half-year results. AMP shed 0.6 percent after the financial services group posted a $2.5 billion loss and scrapped its final dividend.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining fell 1.7 percent after the company finished the previous half with a 12 percent reduction in gold output. Telecom company Telstra declined 1.6 percent after its first-half profit fell more than 7 percent on lower revenues.

Seoul stocks fell slightly after two days of gains. The benchmark Kospi ended down 5.42 points, or 0.2 percent, at 2,232.96, reversing early gains.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 Index dipped 17.40 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,880.84. Synlait Milk shares plunged 18 percent to a two-year low after the dairy company said it would not achieve previously advised earnings growth in the current year amid rising risks from the coronavirus outbreak.

U.S. stocks rose notably overnight, with all three major averages rising between 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent to hit fresh record highs, as coronavirus worries continued to ease and Fed Chair Jerome Powell once again highlighted the resilience of the U.S. economy.

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