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China's return to work lifts local stocks while rest of Asia trails

Stock MarketsFeb 10, 2020 02:46AM ET
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By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian shares fell on Monday as the death toll from a coronavirus outbreak exceeded the SARS epidemic of two decades ago, though Chinese shares gained as authorities lifted some work and travel restrictions, helping businesses to resume operations.

In early European trades, the pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures, German DAX futures and FTSE futures all slipped 0.1% while U.S. stock futures were more upbeat with e-minis for S&P 500 adding 0.2%.

More than 900 people have so far died mainly in China's central Hubei province as of Sunday with most of the new deaths in the provincial capital of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

To contain the spread, China's government had ordered lockdowns, canceled flights and shut schools in many cities. But on Monday, workers began trickling back to offices and factories though a large number of workplaces remain closed and many white-collar workers will continue to work from home.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed some of its early losses but was still down 0.4%. Japan's Nikkei was off 0.6%, South Korea's KOSPI was 0.5% weaker while Australia's benchmark index eased a shade.

China's indexes were the only ones in the black in Asia with the blue-chip index adding 0.5% and Shanghai's SSE (LON:SSE) Composite up 0.3%.

"Markets have turned around a bit reflecting the news that Chinese businesses were returning to work," said James McGlew, analyst at stockbroker Argonaut.

"Overall, I think, there is still a concern out there that the impact from the coronavirus hasn't been fully quantified," he added.

"Today's (easing of restrictions) seems to be more of a symbolic gesture rather than the government actually being on top of the situation with this virus."

The outbreak has killed more people than the SARS epidemic did globally in 2002/2003. The virus has also spread to at least 27 countries and territories, infecting more than 330 people overseas.

Over the weekend, an American hospitalized in the central city of Wuhan became the first confirmed non-Chinese victim of the virus. A Japanese man who also died there was another suspected victim.

Monday's losses in Asia extended from Wall Street on Friday where the Dow fell 0.9%, the S&P 500 declined 0.5% while the Nasdaq lost 0.5%.

"Expect markets to be sensitive to virus headlines. In this environment, we favor defensive positioning," ANZ economists wrote in a note.

China's central bank has taken a raft of measures to support the economy, including reducing interest rates and flushing the market with liquidity. From Monday, it will provide special funds for banks to re-lend to businesses working to combat the virus.

Despite the measures, analysts expect the world economy to take a hit from an expected slowdown in China.

"For now, our best guess is that the economic disruption related to the coronavirus will cost the world economy over $280 billion in the first quarter of this year," Capital Economics said in a note on Friday.

"If we're right, then this will mean that global (economic output) will not grow in q/q terms for the first time since 2009."

The virus has overshadowed other market news with better-than-expected U.S. jobs data on Friday failing to lift sentiment.

Non-farm payrolls increased by 225,000 jobs in January, with employment at construction sites increasing by the most in a year amid milder-than-normal temperatures, the Labor Department said.

Euro zone bond yields fell after German industrial output tumbled in December to notch its biggest fall since January 2009, fanning concerns about the bloc's biggest economy.

The euro staged a half-hearted bounce from four-month lows to be last at $1.0949.

The dollar reversed losses against the yen to be up 0.1% at 109.79.

The Australian dollar, considered a liquid proxy for China plays, also jumped 0.4% to $0.66975 after briefly hitting an 11-year low of $0.6679. It fell 0.2% last week to clock its sixth consecutive weekly loss.

That left the dollar index flat at 98.651.

In commodities, Brent crude futures eased 3 cents to $54.44 a barrel while U.S. crude futures was flat $50.3 a barrel.

Since Jan. 17, oil prices have fallen by 14% while copper is down around 10%.

U.S. gold futures inched up slightly to $1,574 an ounce.

China's return to work lifts local stocks while rest of Asia trails
 

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Comments (5)
Bilderberg CEO
Bilderberg CEO Feb 10, 2020 10:00AM ET
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400 million people are in quarantine!
William Smith
William Smith Feb 10, 2020 8:06AM ET
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Up to 1.5 million cases in China with at least 50,000 dead according to Chinese billionaires who escaped China, reported this morning.
Davey Trep
Davey Trep Feb 10, 2020 8:04AM ET
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lies
Malaki Philippines
BuyDipsSellTips Feb 10, 2020 4:35AM ET
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Shanghai lock down and Tesla giga factory open? Hmmmm
William Smith
William Smith Feb 10, 2020 4:35AM ET
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To ******with employees health.
嘉偉 吳
嘉偉 吳 Feb 10, 2020 4:35AM ET
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10%less ,and go back the renting about 14days.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Feb 10, 2020 3:00AM ET
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There are 10 mentions of the word virus in this article and only 1 mention of Japan in relation to the virus, while all of you are forgetting the dea'th-ship cruise ship that is parked outside of Japan and Abe is busy trying to ignore it and even deny life to his own citizens on the ship --- There will be trouble there as Abe is acting with similar cruelty as when the hordes of the Japanese fell into their sleeping neighbors' countries in ww2. --- Abe is trying to get the WHO to get people on that cruise ship to get "ANOTHER" designation so that his country keeps up an untarnished rating about the virus. Abe is forgetting that the people on that boat are left untreated and unsegregated while an epidemic is happening there: 64 new cases of infections on that boat for Sunday, and the people on board are mostly seniors many of whom have pre-existing conditions. Abe even remained silent for 3 days while the ship was announced to have new cases and was docking places. Shame on you Mr. Abe!
Bean Flicker
Bean Flicker Feb 10, 2020 3:00AM ET
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Relax
William Smith
William Smith Feb 10, 2020 3:00AM ET
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Trying to keep facts off front page.
 
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