Pessimism hangs over Asian markets

Business | 14 Feb 2020 11:13 am

Asian shares mostly fell today as investors turned cautious following a surge in cases of a new virus in China that threatens to crimp economic growth and hurt businesses worldwide.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell by 0.7 percent  in morning trading to 23,667.18. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 inched up by 0.1 percent at 7,112.60. South Korea’s Kospi was little changed at 2,234.50. 

The pessimism echoes a decline on Wall Street that snapped a three-day streak of record highs for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite. The selling marked only the second day this month that the market has declined.

Investors had largely set aside worries about the economic impact of the virus outbreak the past two weeks. Markets rallied this week partly because the number of new cases appeared to be slowing.

Hopes were dashed by sharp increases in both the number of cases and newly reported deaths Thursday after the hardest-hit province of Hubei began counting doctors’ diagnoses without waiting for laboratory results in hopes of getting patients treated faster.

“We’re in a data-dearth period in the sense that we’re not really going to know fully the effects of the impact of that on Asian and Chinese growth, as well as global growth, for at least several weeks,” said Lisa Erickson, head of traditional investments at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “You’re just going to see some back-and-forth movement (in the market) until that time.”-AP


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