Asian markets came under pressure Thursday as the number of new coronavirus outbreak victims soared in China.
China’s Hubei province reported nearly 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 due to a change in diagnosis methodology, according to a statement by Hubei officials, which was reported by other media outlets such as the New York Times. Chinese officials said the change was made so that more patients could receive treatment, but the new numbers threw more uncertainty at the severity of the outbreak and China’s ability to contain it.
“The China announcement has shaken Asia’s confidence this morning” and “has poured a sizeable cold bucket of reality onto investors,” Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia-Pacific market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “The argument that it was a one-off adjustment versus the integrity of China’s data collection has left Asian stock markets in somewhat of a limbo.”
retreated 0.1% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
slipped 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite
declined 0.6% and the Shenzhen Composite
fell 0.6%. South Korea’s Kospi
advanced 0.3%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan
were mostly lower. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200
inched up 0.2%.
Among individual stocks, SoftBank
fell in Tokyo trading, while Honda
rose. In Hong Kong, Country Garden
advanced, while CSPC Pharmaceutical
and China Life Insurance
rose in South Korea, while Beach Energy
sank in Australia.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended higher, with all three major benchmarks registering all-time closing highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 275.08 points, or 0.9%, to end at 29,551.42, while the S&P 500
added 21.70 points or 0.7%, to finish at 3,379.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index
ended at 9,725.96, a gain of 87.02 points, or 0.9%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
futures were down 119 points, or 0.4%, to 29,405.
Benchmark crude oil
was flat $51.14 a barrel. Brent crude oil
, the international benchmark, slipped 0.3% to $55.63 a barrel.
fell 0.3% to 109.76 Japanese yen from 109.89 yen on Wednesday.