Asian shares slipped on Friday as fears about the COVID-19 outbreak once again dominated financial markets.
The TAIEX fell 1.68 percent to 11,321.81 in Taipei, rising 0.26 percent from Thursday last week.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dove 2.7 percent to finish at 20,749.75, down 1.9 percent weekly, while the TOPIX fell 2.9 percent to 1,471.46, down 2.6 percent for the week.
India’s SENSEX fell 2.32 percent on Friday, down 1.9 percent for the week, and the NIFTY 50 lost 2.5 percent for the day, also falling 1.9 percent weekly.
The Philippines Stock Exchange Index slipped 1.66 percent on Friday, down 0.3 percent for the week.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index on Friday fell 0.5 percent, virtually unchanged for the week.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 2.8 percent to 6,216.20 on Friday, bringing its weekly loss to 3.5 percent.
South Korea’s KOSPI on Friday dropped 2.2 percent to 2,040.22, but was up 2.68 percent for the week.
The Shanghai Composite skidded 1.2 percent to 3,034.51, jumping 5.4 percent for the week. The index has rallied nearly 12 percent since scraping bottom on Feb. 3.
The Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell 2.3 percent to 26,146.67 on Friday, while the China Enterprises Index (HSCE) fell 2.5%, to 10,456.93 points.
For the week, the HSI added 0.1 percent, while HSCE, an index tracking Hong Kong-listed mainland firms, gained 1.5 percent as investors welcomed Beijing’s latest supportive measures and expected further stimulus to bolster China’s economy.
Friday’s declines came after a sharp selloff overnight on Wall Street, as large swings in the market continued amid uncertainty over the spread of the coronavirus and its economic fallout.
Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank Ltd in Singapore, said the potential damage from the virus was twofold, with the initial effect coming from a direct impact on the economy.
“One succumbs to the sheer fear of community spread, prospects of deep economic impact from a sharp drop-off in demand for travel and seizures in supply chains,” Varathan said in a commentary.
“The other is a strain that thrives on hopes of stimulus; be it frantic central bank rate cuts, the lull of liquidity infusions or more targeted fiscal offsets to provide pain relief,” he said.
LACK OF CLARITY
“All we know now is that we don’t really understand what’s going to happen next,” Marketfield Asset Management LLC chairman and chief executive officer Michael Shaoul told Bloomberg TV.
“It’s probably four, six, eight weeks before we’re going to have any useful information as to what the trajectory of the virus is and what the actual economic fallout looks like,” he said.
Risk assets have whipsawed this week, with traders on edge amid a rise in virus cases, governments extending quarantines and travel restrictions, and a slew of company warnings on the impact to earnings.
Global equities have recovered some of the recent losses, but they still remain about 10 percent below the all-time high reached last month.
The vicious swings are likely to continue as long as the number of new infections continues to accelerate, analysts and professional investors have said.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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