Asian shares reverse gains on growing impact of China virus
Thursday, 23 January 2020 BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares reversed early gains Thursday as health authorities around the world moved to monitor and contain a deadly virus outbreak in China and keep it from spreading globally.
China and other nations have ramped up screenings for fever on aircraft and at airports. The central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is concentrated, closed down its train station and airport Thursday to prevent people from entering or leaving the city. Adding to concerns, the outbreak coincides with the annual travel of hundreds of millions of Chinese for the Lunar New Year festival, which begins Friday.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index skidded 1% to 23,795.44, while the Kospi in South Korea sank 0.9% to 2,246.13. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng dropped 2.1% to 27,751.30, while the Shanghai Composite index declined 2.8% to 2,973.90. Australia's S&P ASX/200 shed 0.6% to 7,088.00. Shares rose in India and Jakarta but fell in Taiwan and Singapore.
The coronavirus has been confirmed in five countries, including China, the U.S., Thailand, Japan and South Korea. So far, China has confirmed more than 500 people have fallen sick and 17 have died from the illness, which can cause pneumonia and other severe respiratory symptoms.
A World Health Organization committee was scheduled to meet for a second day Thursday as it decides whether to declare China's virus outbreak a global health emergency.
“As far as the market is concerned, the current reaction remains mild and perhaps rightly so given the difficulty to estimate the impact of an evolving syndrome," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary. By postponing a decision on whether the virus is a global health emergency, the WHO helped assuage some fears the crisis is escalating, she said.
European shares were on pace for their sharpest decline in three weeks on Tuesday, as mounting concerns over a new coronavirus outbreak originating in China sparked a rush to safe-haven bets. David Pollard reports.