Asian Markets Mixed Amid Continuing Coronavirus Concerns; Hong Kong Stocks Plunge
By Alex Ho
Asian markets fell in morning trade on Thursday as traders gauged the economic impact of the coronavirus that continued to spread over the Chinese New Year holidays.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down 2.5% by 10:45 PM ET (02:45 GMT). Travel and consume-related stocks underperformed as citizens become less willing to spend during the new year holidays, which is usually a peak spending period. Macau casinos Galaxy Entertainment Group and Sands China Ltd. slumped more than 5%. Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. lost around 3% while China Eastern Airlines and China Southern (NYSE:SO) Airlines traded more than 5% lower.
The death toll from the coronavirus in China rose to 132, with 5,974 infected in the country, according to government data released on Thursday. Yesterday, the Hong Kong government announced a package of measures aimed at limiting the Asian financial hub’s connections to mainland China in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
“The next few days to early February will be critical. If we are able to keep cases outside Hubei province low, this means the city lockdown works and may help alleviate the concern,” said Tommy Xie, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. in a Bloomberg report.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.6%, while South Korea’s KOSPI advanced 0.7%.
Down under, Australia’s ASX 200 was up 0.6%. The country’s consumer price index advanced 0.7% from the third quarter, compared with a forecast 0.6% gain, and 1.8% from a year earlier, versus an estimated 1.7%, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed on Wednesday.
China’s stock markets remained closed for the extended Lunar new year holiday. Trading in China will resume on Monday.