Asian stocks fell yet again on Tuesday after China reported 24 more deaths from coronavirus epidemic, taking the number of fatalities to 106 and raising concerns about a hit to global economic growth. The virus has now spread to more than ten countries, including the U.S., France, Australia and Canada.
Japanese shares recouped some early losses to end off their day's lows. The Nikkei average ended down 127.80 points, or 0.55 percent, at 23,215.71, while the broader Topix index closed 0.60 percent lower at 1,692.28.
Yamaha Corp., Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings and Chiyoda Corp were among the worst performers. Exporters finished broadly lower as the yen held near a two-week high against the U.S. dollar.
Australian markets tumbled as traders returned to their desks after a long holiday weekend. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 96 points, or 1.35 percent, at 6,994.50, after seeing its biggest intraday drop so far this year earlier in the day.
The broader All Ordinaries index dropped 104.80 points, or 1.45 percent, to 7,098.40 as fears of the "coronavirus" contagion hammered oil and commodity prices.
Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell over 3 percent while energy companies such as Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos declined more than 2 percent after crude oil prices fell for a fifth straight session overnight.
Oil Search plunged as much as 7.5 percent as it reported an 11 percent drop in quarterly revenue. Banks ANZ and Commonwealth lost 1.7 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Qantas Airways slumped 5.2 percent as the rapid spread of the coronavirus out of China triggered travel bans. Webjet plummeted nearly 14 percent and Flight Centre Travel Group tumbled 4.1 percent.
In economic news, Australia's business conditions weakened marginally in December signaling that activity stabilized in the fourth quarter, survey data from National Australia Bank showed today.
Seoul stocks fell sharply to hit over eight-month low amid worries that the coronavirus outbreak will have a significant impact on China's GDP this quarter. The benchmark Kospi ended down 69.41 points, or 3.09 percent, at 2,176.72.
"We are closely examining the impact of the spread (of the virus) in China on its consumption and production, along with the global economy and our exports," Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said during an emergency meeting held with related ministries today.
China is the top trading partner of South Korea, taking up a quarter of the combined exports in 2019.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 3.3 percent, No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix lost 2.4 percent and panel maker LG Display declined 1.7 percent. Duty-free operator Lotte Shopping plunged as much as 7.3 percent.
New Zealand shares fell sharply, dragged down by travel and tourism-related stocks. The benchmark NZX-50 index ended down 122.03 points, or 1.03 percent, at 11,685.11.
Tourism Holdings slumped 4.8 percent, Auckland International Airport fell 2.3 percent and Air New Zealand dropped 1.6 percent. Air New Zealand said it expects to incur one-time charges, including reorganization costs, of up to NZ$50 million in fiscal 2020.
Markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.
U.S. stocks tumbled overnight, with all three indexes suffering their worst single-day losses in months, as worries about the spread of the China virus weighed on travel, tourism and hospitality stocks as well as companies with major exposure to China. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 both dropped around 1.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 1.9 percent.