Asia Mostly Up as Investors Ponder Virus Impact

Stocks in Asia were mostly higher on Friday as concerns around the ongoing coronavirus outbreak continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 index capsized 140.14 points, or 0.6%, to 23,687.59, as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing dropped 1.8%.

Shares of automaker Nissan plunged 9.6% after the company cut its annual operating income forecast by more than 40%.

On the corporate earnings front, shares of Japan’s Toshiba jumped 2.27% despite posting a 145.626 billion yen loss attributable to shareholders of the company ($1.326 billion U.S.) in the nine months ended Dec. 31.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.78 per U.S. dollar after seeing levels around 109.9 yesterday.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index regained 85.6 points, or 0.3%, to 27,815.60.

Investors continued to watch for developments on the coronavirus outbreak following Thursday’s spike in the number of cases reported after authorities in Hubei introduced a new method for tabulating case totals. On Friday, the province reported an additional 116 deaths and 4,823 new confirmed cases as of the end of Feb. 13.

On Friday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the coronavirus’ economic impact on the island nation’s economy has already exceeded that of SARS in 2003, according to a report by local publication The Straits Times. Singapore has been among the countries worst hit by the disease as it has one of the highest reported number of confirmed cases outside of China.

The Straits Times index in Singapore was last trading largely flat in the afternoon.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6722 after touching an earlier low of $0.6707.


The CSI 300 moved higher 27.81 points, or 0.7%, to 3,987.73.

China was set to halve tariff rates on certain U.S. products worth about $75 billion with effect on Friday, as previously announced by Beijing in early February.

Retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. goods will be cut from 10% to 5%, and from 5% to 2.5% on others, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Finance earlier this month. The adjustments were set to take effect early afternoon on Friday.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex gained 23.92 points, or 0.2%, to 11,815.70

In Korea, the Kospi index re-strengthened 10.63 points, or 0.5%, to 2,243.59

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dipped 0.06 points to 3,220.03

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 picked up 46.01 points, or 0.4%, to 11,834.83

In Australia, the ASX 200 picked up 26.98 points, or 0.4%, to 7,130.21