Asian Markets Extends Losses; Nikkei Plunges 3.3% Amid Virus Fear Selling

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By Alex Ho – Asian markets extended losses on Tuesday, with Japanese stocks plunging more than 3% on worries about a potential coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

China’s lost 2.0% by 10:45 PM ET (02:45 GMT), while the SZSE Component slid 2.1%.

Hong Kong’s slipped 0.1% after opening slightly higher earlier in the day.

Citing the MSCI All Country World Index, Bloomberg said Hong Kong stocks investors are the worst off in 16 years relative to the rest of the world as the city tried to recover from the impact caused by the coronavirus and last year’s anti-government protests.

“Hong Kong has a rather unbalanced economy, which relies heavily on sectors like retail and tourism that will be hit hard by the virus due to less mainland visitors,” said Ronald Wan, chief executive of Partners Capital International in the Bloomberg report. “It’s a market with high risk at the moment.”

Last week, the city’s financial secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong is facing “tsunami-like” shocks and may incur a record budget deficit in the next fiscal year.

Japan’s slumped 3.3%, while South Korea’s gained 0.8%.

Down under, Australia’s declined 1.7%.

The World Health Organization warned that a “sudden increase in new cases” outside of China is “deeply concerning,” following a rise in infections of Covid-19 in Italy, South Korea and Iran.

Italy reported seven deaths due to the coronavirus on Monday, while several Middle East countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq, reported their first infections today, feeding worries the disease could turn into a pandemic.

The number of cases worldwide has now topped 80,000. In China, Hubei province reports 68 additional deaths, and 499 new cases.

Overnight, The S&P 500 tumbled 3.35%, lost 3.71% and the fell 3.56%, or 1,032 points. It was their steepest losses since mid-2016.

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