Asian Shares Fall On Virus Worries

asianmarket 021219 29jun20 lt

Asian stocks fell on Monday as a continued rise in cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide deepened fears of further economic pain.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide has surpassed 10 million, while the global death toll from the pandemic rose to more than 500,000.

It is feared that the surging cases could lead to the re-imposition of lockdowns and other containment measures.

China's Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.61 percent to 2,961.52, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended down 1.01 percent at 24,301.28.

Profits at China's industrial firms rose for the first time in six months in May, a report showed today.

In another development, China's central bank on Sunday vowed stronger macro-economic policy adjustment as well as better fiscal, monetary and employment policy coordination and implementation after pumping cash into the banking system via reverse repos to maintain liquidity.

Japan's Nikkei index fell 2.3 percent to 21,995.04 after data showed retail sales in the country fell an annual 12.3 percent in May - missing expectations for a drop of 11.6 percent following the 13.7 percent decline in the previous month.

On a monthly basis, retail sales advanced a seasonally adjusted 2.1 percent - beating forecasts for a decline of 5.4 percent after sinking a downwardly revised 9.9 percent in April (originally -9.6 percent.

The Nikkei ended below the 22,000 level for the first time since June 15th. The broader Topix index closed 1.78 percent lower at 1,549.22.

Heavyweight SoftBank Group tumbled 2.8 percent after it announced estimates it will gain 600 billion yen (US$5.6 billion) from the initial sale of T-mobile shares.

Australian markets tumbled as the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months and Victoria, Australia's second most populous state, said it is considering re-imposing social districting restrictions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 dropped 89.10 points, or 1.51 percent, to 5,815, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 96.20 points, or 1.60 percent, at 5,915.60.

The big four banks fell between 1 percent and 1.6 percent while energy companies Woodside Petroleum and Santos lost around 3 percent.

Miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group declined 2-3 percent. Rio Tinto said it has reached an agreement with Mongolia to domestically supply power to its Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine.

Infigen Energy shares rallied 3.4 percent after Spanish utility Iberdrola raised its takeover offer for the Australian wind farm operator to A$0.89 per share.

Seoul stocks succumbed to heavy selling pressure on renewed fears over the new coronavirus and the worsening U.S.-China political friction over China's Hong Kong legislation.

The benchmark Kospi tumbled 41.17 points, or 1.93 percent, to 2,093.48, closing below the 2,100 mark for the first time in two weeks since June 15.

South Korea added 42 cases, including 30 local infections Monday, raising the total caseload to 12,757. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix fell over 1 percent while Kia Motors lost nearly 3 percent.

New Zealand shares rose sharply after Fisher & Paykel Healthcare posted a record profit amid strong demand for products to treat Covid-19 patients. The benchmark NZX 50 index climbed 1.11 percent to 11,252.54, while shares of the medical devices maker surged 4.7 percent.

U.S. stocks tumbled on Friday as several U.S. states imposed business restrictions after a resurgence in new infections and the Wall Street Journal reported that the Phase 1 U.S.-China trade deal could be at risk.

Banks paced the declines as the Federal Reserve moved to cap bank dividend payments and halt stock buybacks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2.8 percent to register its steepest fall in two weeks, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index slumped 2.6 percent and the S&P 500 lost 2.4 percent.

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