Asian Shares Tumble As Virus Worries Intensify

Asian stocks ended Friday’s session deep in the red as the coronavirus accelerated in Europe, North America and Britain, stoking worries about a hit to global economic growth.

The coronavirus outbreak will cut global growth by 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent and it will have a significant impact on developing Asian economies through weak domestic demand, tourism, trade and production linkages and supply disruptions, the Asian Development Bank said.

According to the ADB analysis, the global impact will be in the range of $77 billion to $347 billion, or 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent of global gross domestic product.

According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus has infected at least 95,270 people and killed more than 3,200 worldwide.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 37.17 points, or 1.21 percent, to 3,034.51 amid lingering uncertainty over the spread of the coronavirus and its economic fallout. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 621.20 points, or 2.3 percent, to 26,146.67.

Japanese shares hit six-month lows to log their fourth consecutive week of decline amid a deepening global rout as the corona epidemic spread further in Europe and the United States.

The Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 579.37 points, or 2.7 percent, to 20,749.75, the lowest close since September 4, 2019. The broader Topix closed 2.9 percent lower at 1,471.46, the lowest finish since last January.

SoftBank Group, which owns highly leveraged tech start-up Vision Fund, fell over 6 percent. Tourism stocks nosedived as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a two-week quarantine for visitors from China and South Korea. H.I.S. lost 6.3 percent and AirTrip plummeted 8.2 percent.

Meanwhile, Seven & i Holdings soared 5.9 percent after the retailer dropped its plan to acquire U.S. convenience store chain Speedway LLC.

In economic news, official data showed today that average household spending in Japan was down an annual 3.9 percent in January – coming in line with expectations following the 4.8 percent decline in December.

Australian markets nosedived, with miners and financials pacing the decliners on concerns over the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak outside China.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index plummeted 179.50 points, or 2.8 percent, to 6,216.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 184.90 points, or 2.9 percent, to 6,287.50.

The big four banks plunged 4-5 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell 3.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

Gold miners Newcrest, Evolution and Northern Star Resources climbed 2-3 percent as gold prices remained on track to post their biggest weekly gain since 2016.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy, Oil Search and Beach Energy dropped 2-3 percent, as worries about global oil demand and economic growth overshadowed optimism over an OPEC deal to cut crude output by an extra 1.5 million barrels per day in the second quarter.

On the economic front, the service sector in Australia continued to contract in February, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed with a Performance of Service Index score of 47.0, down from 47.4 in January.

Another report showed that the value of retail sales in Australia fell a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent sequentially in January – missing forecasts for a flat reading.

Seoul stocks fell as coronavirus cases continued to rise in the country despite efforts to contain the outbreak. The country reported 196 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 6,284. The death toll rose by seven to 42, according to the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

The benchmark Kospi gave up 45.04 points, or 2.2 percent, to finish at 2,040.22 after gaining for four straight sessions.

New Zealand shares tumbled, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index ending down 214.99 points, or 1.9 percent, at 11,425.90. Shares of utility Meridian Energy slumped 4.7 percent.

U.S. stocks fell sharply overnight and Treasury yields touched record lows as investors continued to fret about the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak that has spread worldwide.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 3.6 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 3.1 percent and the S&P 500 shed 3.4 percent.

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