Asian markets came under pressure Thursday as the number of new coronavirus outbreak victims soared in China.
China’s Hubei province reported nearly 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 due to a change in diagnosis methodology, according to a statement by Hubei officials, which was reported by other media outlets such as the New York Times . Chinese officials said the change was made so that more patients could receive treatment, but the new numbers threw more uncertainty at the severity of the outbreak and China’s ability to contain it.
“The China announcement has shaken Asia’s confidence this morning” and “has poured a sizeable cold bucket of reality onto investors,” Jeffrey Halley, senior Asia-Pacific market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. “The argument that it was a one-off adjustment versus the integrity of China’s data collection has left Asian stock markets in somewhat of a limbo.”
Japan’s Nikkei /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.78% retreated 0.1% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.05% slipped 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.04% declined 0.6% and the Shenzhen Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598015/delayed CN:399106 +0.06% fell 0.6%. South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.21% advanced 0.3%, while benchmark indexes in Taiwan /zigman2/quotes/210597977/delayed TW:Y9999 +0.73% , Singapore /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +1.28% , Malaysia /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI +1.27% and Indonesia /zigman2/quotes/210597981/delayed ID:JAKIDX +0.11% were mostly lower. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.67% inched up 0.2%.
Among individual stocks, SoftBank /zigman2/quotes/207303954/delayed JP:9984 +3.73% and Nissan /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 +0.53% fell in Tokyo trading, while Honda /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +0.29% and Inpex /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 -0.60% rose. In Hong Kong, Country Garden /zigman2/quotes/201681083/delayed HK:2007 +0.20% and Tencent /zigman2/quotes/204605823/delayed HK:700 -2.02% advanced, while CSPC Pharmaceutical /zigman2/quotes/200847219/delayed HK:1093 +0.39% and China Life Insurance /zigman2/quotes/202359856/delayed HK:2628 -1.16% fell. Samsung /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 -0.51% rose in South Korea, while Beach Energy /zigman2/quotes/200513631/delayed AU:BPT -0.34% sank in Australia.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks ended higher, with all three major benchmarks registering all-time closing highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.14% rose 275.08 points, or 0.9%, to end at 29,551.42, while the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.08% added 21.70 points or 0.7%, to finish at 3,379.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.68% ended at 9,725.96, a gain of 87.02 points, or 0.9%.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210407078/delayed YM00 -0.15% futures were down 119 points, or 0.4%, to 29,405.
Benchmark crude oil was flat $51.14 a barrel. Brent crude oil , the international benchmark, slipped 0.3% to $55.63 a barrel.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.0739% fell 0.3% to 109.76 Japanese yen from 109.89 yen on Wednesday.