Asian markets declined in early trading Wednesday following another sharp selloff on Wall Street as the global spread of the coronavirus outbreak continued to rattle traders.
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.45% sank 0.7%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.32% dipped 0.5%. The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP -0.07% edged up 0.3%, while the smaller-cap Shenzhen Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598015/delayed CN:399106 -0.34% fell 0.8%. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.48% retreated 1%. Stocks ticked up in Malaysia /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI -1.06% , but fell in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 -0.15% , Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI -2.17% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX -0.06% . Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.38% tumbled 2.3%.
Among individual stocks, SoftBank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 +0.65% , Sony /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 +0.01% and Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 +2.74% dropped in Tokyo trading. In Hong Kong, AAC /zigman2/quotes/201441510/delayed HK:2018 +0.25% and Sunny Optical /zigman2/quotes/206687505/delayed HK:2382 -1.33% fell, along with China Mobile /zigman2/quotes/200868736/delayed HK:941 -1.34% . Samsung /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 -0.10% declined in South Korea, while Beach Energy /zigman2/quotes/200513631/delayed AU:BPT +1.42% and Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +0.93% fell in Australia.
“The picture is not a good one,” Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia-Pacific market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “Asian stocks will continue to remain under pressure, remaining acutely vulnerable to new negative virus headlines. Europe is to some extent, still playing virus catch-up, with European stock likely to endure a harsh morning session.”
New cases continued to rise sharply in South Korea, where the first U.S. soldier tested positive for the COVID-19 illness. More than 1,100 cases have been confirmed in South Korea, with at least 11 deaths, according to the Associated Press.
China, the epicenter of the outbreak, continued to add new cases — though at a slower pace in recent days — with more than 78,000 total cases and 2,700 deaths. But concern grew about outbreaks away from Asia, from Iran to Italy to the Canary Islands.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it’s just a matter of time before the virus impacts the U.S. “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen — and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” she said.
U.S. stocks closed Tuesday with the Dow registering its worst two-day loss on record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.04% slid 879.44 points, 3.2%, to settle at 27,081.3, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.24% lost 97.68 points, 3%, to close at 3,128.21. The Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.43% fell below 9,000, shedding 255.67 points, or 2.8%, to end at 8,965.61.
After settling at two-week lows Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery rose to $50.26 per barrel in electronic trading, while Brent crude, the global benchmark , ticked up to $55.25 a barrel.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.0641% edged up to 99.12 Japanese yen.