Asian Stocks Plunge as Most Major Indices Slump 3% Amid Coronavirus Fears

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By Alex Ho – Stocks in Asia plunged on Friday morning, with most major indices slumping around 3% amid fears about the spread of the coronavirus globally.

China’s and the plunged 3.4% and 4.4% respectively by 10:55 PM ET (03:55 GMT).

The traded 2.4% lower after data showed Hong Kong’s private home prices fell for the second straight month in January.

Prices fell a revised 1.6% in December. January prices were 4.7% lower than the peak in May 2019, according to the data released today.

Japan’s fell 3.8%. While not a directional driver today, official data on Friday showed the country’s factory output rose 0.8% in January from the previous month, compared to the expected 0.2% gain and a downwardly revised 1.2% rise in the previous month.

South Korea’s slid 2.8%.

Down under, Australia’s lost 3.0%.

Global shares are now on course for the worst week since the 2008 financial crisis, down more than 10% this month’s peak after the World Health Organization said Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak has the potential to become a pandemic and is at a decisive stage.

Overnight, U.S. stocks closed lower again after California’s governor Gavin Newsom said the state is monitoring 8,400 people for signs of exposure.

Just a day earlier, the CDC confirmed the first infection to a patient in California who did not have “relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient,” stoking fears health authorities would struggle to contain the outbreak.

The S&P 500 closed down 4.4%, while the Jones slumped 4.4% and Nasdaq plunged 4.6%.

Despite the news, President Donald Trump said his administration has done an “incredible job” preventing the spread of coronavirus, pointing out the U.S. has 15 people who contracted the virus “instead of thousands of people.”

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