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Asian Shares Retreat On Virus Fears, Growth Worries

asian market down 25jun20 lt

Asian stocks fell on Thursday amid concerns that a spike in new coronavirus cases in several U.S. states and elsewhere could derail efforts by governments to reopen economies and ease lockdown restrictions.

A downbeat forecast from the International Monetary Fund and the EU-U.S. trade tensions also weighed on the markets.

Japanese stocks ended lower as investors grappled with resurgent coronavirus infections in the U.S. and fresh tensions between the EU and Washington.

The updated International Monetary Fund economic forecasts also hit investor sentiment, with the institution warning the downturn is a "crisis like no other."

The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled, 274.53 points, or 1.2 percent, to 22,259.79 while the broader Topix closed 1.2 percent lower at 1,561.85. Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda Motor plunged 3-5 percent.

NEC rallied 2.4 percent after the electronics giant said it was talking with telecom group NTT about a capital and business tie-up for 5G wireless technology development.

Olympus soared 11.2 percent after it unveiled plans to sell its struggling camera division to focus on medical equipment.

NEC Corp. rose 2.4 percent on a Nikkei report that telecom conglomerate Nippon Telegraph & Telephone will acquire a 5 percent stake in the electronics company.

Australian markets hit their lowest level in more than a week after the country posted its biggest one-day spike in coronavirus cases in two months, raising fears of a possible second wave of infections.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index plunged 148 points, or 2.5 percent, to 5,817.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 153.60 points, or 2.5 percent, at 5,928.

The big four banks fell between 2.3 percent and 3.5 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto declined 2.4 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

Lithium explorer Orocobre lost 2 percent after warning that sales volume of lithium carbonate would more than halve in the June quarter.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy, Oil Search and Beach Energy plunged 3-7 percent as oil extended losses after falling more than 5 percent in the previous session.

Qantas Airways shares were placed in a trading halt after the beleaguered airline announced a plan to reduce costs by billions of dollars and raise fresh capital.

Seoul stocks fell sharply as investors fretted about a surge in coronavirus cases in major economies and escalating trade tensions.

The benchmark Kospi dove 49.14 points, or 2.3 percent, to 2,112.37. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics and No.2 chipmaker SK Hynix both fell about 2 percent.

South Korea reported 28 more cases of the Covid-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 12:00 a.m. Thursday local time, raising the total number of infections to 12,563.

New Zealand shares fell sharply, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index ending down 135.05 points, or 1.2 percent, at 11,124.36, dragged down by healthcare stocks.

In economic news, New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$1.3 billion in May, Statistics New Zealand said, following the NZ$1.267 billion surplus in April. Exports were down an annual 6.1 percent, while imports plummeted 25.6 percent.

Markets in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong were closed for the Dragon Boat Festival.

U.S. stocks slumped overnight as coronavirus cases continued to rise in several states, raising fears of a new round of lockdowns and a slower economic recovery.

The International Monetary Fund has lowered its global growth forecast for this year and next and said the pandemic was causing wider and deeper damage to economic activity than first thought.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 2.7 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunged 2.2 percent and the S&P 500 lost 2.6 percent.

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