Asian Equities Tumble as Investors Await Government’s Stimulus Measures

March 12, 2020
Asian Equities Tumble as Investors Await Government's Stimulus Measures

By Investors Hub

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Wednesday as investors reacted to negative headlines around the coronavirus and watched for government stimulus measures to combat the outbreak’s economic impact.

There were doubts about whether expected stimulus measures would be adequate to soften the economic blows from the coronavirus outbreak.

Media reports suggest U.S. President Donald Trump briefed Senate Republicans on Tuesday on his proposed economic stimulus package in response to the coronavirus.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow declined to specify the dollar amount for the package but confirmed that Trump prefers it include a payroll tax “holiday” through the end of this year.

China reported an increase in imported coronavirus cases today, reversing four straight days of fewer new cases. Infections in Italy topped the 10,000 mark, reaching more than anywhere but China.

The total number of cases worldwide neared 120,000, with rapid growth in new infections in France, Spain, Germany and Iran.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index shed 28.24 points, or 0.9 percent, to finish at 2,968.52, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 160.90 points, or 0.6 percent, to 25,231.61.

Japanese stocks ended sharply lower despite a solid lead from Wall Street overnight. The Nikkei 225 Index plunged 451.06 points, or 2.3 percent, to 19,416.06, marking its lowest close since December 26, 2018.

The broader Topix ended 1.5 percent lower at 1,385.12. Tech stocks fell broadly, with Advantest and Tokyo Electron losing around 6 percent.

Toyota dropped 1 percent on reports that it plans to temporarily cut production of its Lexus models in Japan due to falling demand in China amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Australian markets slipped into bear market territory due to disappointment over a lack of details on U.S. economic stimulus.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index tumbled 213.70 points, or 3.6 percent, to 5,725.90 despite the government announcing a $2.4 billion (US $1.6 billion) package to help tackle the virus outbreak. The broader All Ordinaries Index slumped 206.50 points, or 3.4 percent, to 5,789.30.

The big four banks lost 5-7 percent, while mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ended down 2.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. Energy companies such as Woodside Petroleum and Santos gave up 4-5 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining plummeted 8.6 percent after cutting its full-year gold production forecast.

Australian consumer confidence declined to a five-year low in March, as worsening coronavirus outbreak and the associated rout in the financial markets weighed on households’ major purchase decisions and finances, survey data from Westpac showed.

Reserve Bank of Australia Deputy Governor Guy Debelle said at a business summit that a mix of fiscal and monetary policy will help the economy to navigate through the difficult period.

Seoul stocks succumbed to heavy selling pressure as foreign funds sold off shares despite short-sale curbs. The benchmark Kospi fell below the psychologically important 1,900 level for the first time since February 2016 before ending the session down 54.66 points, or 2.8 percent, at 1,908.27.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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