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Asian Shares Rebound As Trump Floats Tax Cuts


Asian stocks recovered from an early slide to end higher on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would seek measures to help virus-hit businesses.


U.S. President Donald Trump said he will meet with Senate and House Republicans later today to discuss a possible payroll tax cut or "substantial relief" to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.


China's Shanghai Composite index jumped 53.47 points, or 1.82 percent, to 2,996.76 as new virus infections slowed in China and authorities shifted focus to preventing imported infections from overseas hot spots such as Iran, Italy and South Korea.


President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, today as the spread of coronavirus in mainland China sharply slowed in the past week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 1.41 percent to finish at 25,392.51.


China's consumer price inflation slowed slightly in February on slowing non-food price growth while producer prices returned to deflation as factory shutdowns after corona virus outbreak lowered demand, data published by the National Bureau of Statistics showed today.


Consumer prices advanced 5.2 percent on a yearly basis in February, slower than the 5.4 percent increase seen in January. The rate came in line with expectations. On a monthly basis, consumer prices gained 0.8 percent, slower than the 1.4 percent rise in January.


Producer prices declined 0.4 percent annually in February, in contrast to a 0.1 percent rise a month ago. Prices were forecast to fall 0.3 percent. Month-on-month, producer prices fell 0.5 percent in February.


Japanese shares advanced on expectations that governments within the Group of Seven nations will announce stimulus measures to combat the global coronavirus outbreak. Closer home, Finance Minister Taro Aso said the government will consider more steps if the virus spreads further.


The Nikkei average ended up 168.36 points, or 0.85 percent, at 19,867.12, after touching its lowest level since April 2017 earlier in the day. The broader Topix index closed 1.28 percent higher at 1,406.68.


Automakers Honda Motor, Toyota and Nissan rose 2-3 percent as the yen weakened on hopes for U.S. economic stimulus. Market heavyweight SoftBank Group jumped 2.4 percent.


Australian markets reversed early declines to end sharply higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell into bear territory before recovering to end the session up 179 points, or 3.11 percent, at 5,939.60. Australian stocks suffered their worst single day loss in almost 12 years on Monday.


The broader All Ordinaries index rallied 173.40 points, or 2.98 percent, to 5,995.80 after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government will deliver a stimulus package this week to help overcome the impact of the coronavirus on the Australian economy.


The big four banks climbed 4-6 percent, while miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto surged 4-7 percent. Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Oil Search rallied 2-4 percent as oil prices bounced back from a record-setting fall. Beach energy shares jumped as much as 7.9 percent.


Australia business confidence and conditions weakened in February, although it appears too early to fully quantify the effect of the Coronavirus, survey data from the National Australia Bank showed today.


The business conditions index fell two points to zero in February, led by a decline in profitability and small decline in trading conditions. At the same time, the business confidence index dropped to -4, signaling that businesses see further deterioration in conditions in the short term.


Seoul stocks rebounded from six-week lows sparked by the oil's record-setting plunge and growing fears over the potential global economic damage from the coronavirus. The benchmark Kospi inched up 8.16 points, or 0.42 percent, to 1,962.93 as China and South Korea both reported a slowdown in new virus infections.


Before the opening bell, Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom and Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol made a verbal intervention, saying financial authorities will take timely measures to stabilize the foreign exchange market if there is an excessive one-sided movement.


New Zealand shares bounced back from a sharp sell-off in early trading after Trump said he'd seek a payroll tax cut to deal with the covid-19 outbreak. The benchmark NZX-50 index hit as low as 10,549.45 before recouping some of its loss to end the session down 194.34 points, or 1.75 percent, at 10,897.47.


Restaurant Brands New Zealand shares slumped 5.8 percent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare lost 4.5 percent, while Air New Zealand dropped 2.3 percent to its lowest close in four years.


The volume of manufacturing activity in New Zealand was up a seasonally adjusted 2.7 percent sequentially in the fourth quarter of 2019, Statistics New Zealand said - following the flat September quarter.


U.S. stocks fell again overnight as the oil price plunge added to nervousness spurred by the spreading coronavirus. Trading was suspended for 15 minutes after the S&P 500 opened with a 7 percent cut, the prescribed limit for a lower circuit.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 7.8 percent in its worst day since 2008. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 7.3 percent and the S&P 500 slumped 7.6 percent.