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Asian Shares Decline Amid Virus Worries

stockmarkets jan18 24apr20 lt

Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Friday after analysts warned the global economy will take much longer to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus has infected more than 2.7 million people around the world, with the death toll passing 190,000 so far, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Chinese shares fell amid lingering coronavirus worries. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index dropped 29.97 points, or 1.06 percent, to 2,808.53 despite the People's Bank of China cutting the interest rate on its targeted medium-term lending facility to support the world's second-largest economy. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid 0.61 percent to 23,831.33.

Japanese shares ended lower to post their first weekly decline in three, with chipmakers falling after Intel said it was unclear about its annual outlook.

Traders also considered the implications of a Nikkei report that the Bank of Japan may replace its government bond-purchase target to allow unlimited buying.

The Nikkei average fell 167.44 points, or 0.86 percent, to 19,262.00 and ended with a weekly loss of 3.2 percent. The broader Topix index dropped 0.33 percent to 1,421.29.

Advantest lost 4.1 percent and Tokyo Electron shed 3.1 percent as Intel forecast second-quarter earnings below Wall Street views. Disco Corp declined 4.9 percent despite the precision tools maker for the semiconductor production industry posting better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

Camera and copy machine maker Canon dropped 1.3 percent after withdrawing its full-year earnings outlook.

On the economic front, official data showed that consumer prices in Japan rose an annual 0.4 percent in March, in line with expectations and unchanged from the February reading.

Australian markets rose notably as higher commodity prices helped lift shares of energy and material companies. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 gained 25.50 points, or 0.49 percent, to 5,242.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 27.90 points, or 0.53 percent, at 5,300.70.

Beach Energy and Oil Search jumped over 4 percent as oil prices extended their rebound from record lows.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose 2.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, while smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group rallied 3.4 percent.

Gold miner Evolution advanced 2.2 percent after gold prices hit over one-week high on Thursday on hopes of more stimulus from the United States and amid rising tensions in the Middle East.

Seoul shares fell sharply as investors reacted to weak U.S. and European economic data as well as the latest news on the coronavirus. The benchmark Kospi fell 25.72 points, or 1.34 percent, to 1,889.01, marking the sharpest loss in more than a week.

New Zealand shares drifted lower as investors waited for change moving forward into alert level 3, with the nationwide level 4 lockdown due to end on Monday 11.59pm next week. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 26.63 points, or 0.25 percent, to 10,419.48 ahead of the long weekend.

U.S. stocks ended narrowly mixed overnight as investors reacted to troubling labor market data, rebounding oil prices and reports suggesting that Gilead Sciences Inc's experimental coronavirus drug failed its first randomized clinical trial. The company, however, said the study was unable to provide statistically meaningful conclusions due to low enrollment.

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