Asian Shares Extend Global Rout


Asian stocks tumbled on Thursday to extend a global rout as fears intensified over the spread of the new coronavirus and its wide-ranging effects on businesses.


U.S. President Donald Trump's address on the coronavirus failed to quell concerns about the economic impact of the outbreak.


Chinese stocks joined a global selloff, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite index ending down 1.52 percent at 2,923.49, a two-week low amid worries about the economic fallout from coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 3.66 percent to finish at 24,309.07.


Japanese markets fell deeper into bear market territory after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic and the U.S. imposed sweeping restrictions on travel from Europe, except from the United Kingdom.


The Nikkei average slumped 856.43 points, or 4.41 percent to 18,559.63, its lowest closing level since April 2017. The fall was the second-biggest one-day decline in 15 months, pushing the index into bear market territory. The broader Topix index closed 4.13 percent lower at 1,327.88.


Market heavyweight SoftBank slumped 6.3 percent and Fast Retailing declined 5.6 percent. Banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group fell around 5.5 percent each. In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum plunged 7.5 percent and Inpex gave up 6 percent.


Toyota Motor tumbled 3.5 percent. The automaker told its union that it will not raise base pay this year, marking the first time since 2013 it is denying a base pay hike during annual wage talks.


Australian markets nosedived to hit over three-year lows as investors assessed the rising cost of coronavirus.


The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 slumped 421.30 points, or 7.36 percent, to 5,304.60, despite the government unveiling a A$17.6 billion economic plan to tackle the significant challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus. That marked the lowest close in more than three years. The broader All Ordinaries index plummeted 418.40 points, or 7.23 percent, to 5,370.90.


"Our targeted stimulus package will focus on keeping Australians in jobs and keeping businesses in business so we can bounce back strongly," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.


Travel related firms paced the decliners, with Qantas, Flight Centre and Webjet losing 10-20 percent.


Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, Oil Search and Santos gave up 8-10 percent as oil prices fell further amid a global price war.


Miners BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group dropped 6-8 percent while the big four banks declined 8-9 percent.


Seoul stocks crashed amid relentless selling by foreign investors on growing fears over the coronavirus pandemic. The benchmark Kospi ended down 73.94 points, or 3.87 percent, at 1,834.33. At one point the index slipped to 1,808.56 percent, the lowest since August 2015.


Trading curbs on program selling were set off for the first time in nearly nine years after futures plunged more than 5 percent, setting off a circuit breaker.


New Zealand shares slumped to a nine-month low after Trump imposed travel restrictions on passengers from the European mainland. Closer home, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media she expected further border restrictions would be implemented in New Zealand.


The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index plunged 540.33 points, or 4.97 percent, to 10,333.27, its lowest close since June. Heavyweight A2 Milk lost 6.7 percent despite news that the dairy producer is expanding into Canada.


U.S. stocks plunged again overnight as Boeing announced a number of MAX order cancellations, Goldman Sachs predicted the end of a long bull market and the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 5.9 percent and the S&P 500 gave up 4.9 percent to end at their worst closing levels in over a year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 4.7 percent.

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