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Asian Shares Plunge as Coronavirus Spreads Throughout Region

James Hyerczyk

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes were down across the board on Thursday as investors continued to assess the economic impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, while watching for new developments.

In Asia, travel related stocks continued to take hits with airlines and gaming companies plunging. In the U.S., the markets showed little reaction to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s decision to hold its overnight benchmark rate unchanged at between 1.5% and 1.75%, as expected.

On Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 22977.75, down 401.65 or -1.72%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished at 26449.13, down 711.50 or -2.62% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index closed at 2148.00, down 37.28 or -1.71%.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index settled at 7008.40, down 23.10 or -0.33%. China remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Corona Virus Update

China’s National Health Commission confirmed an additional 38 deaths and 1,737 new cases. Officials said that brings their total to 170 deaths and 7,711 cases, as of the end of Wednesday. They also said 170 people had been cured and discharged. The NHC said new cases announced Thursday include the first one confirmed in Tibet.

Stores Closing

The world’s biggest furniture retailer Ikea said it has temporarily closed all its 30 stores in China due to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. On Wednesday, Starbucks reported it has shut down operations.

Taiwan Shares Plunge

Taiwan’s benchmark Taiex dived 5.75% by the close on Thursday after returning to trade from a holiday. Shares of heavyweight Hon Hai Precision Industry – also known as Foxconn – plummeted nearly 10%.

Taiwan’s economy is heavily dependent on China, while manufacturing giant Foxconn – Apple’s largest iPhone supplier – is among the top five companies from the virus epicenter of Hubei importing to the U.S. Hubei accounted for 27.4% of Hon Hai-associated U.S. seaborne shipments from China, according to research company Panjiva.

Foxconn however said earlier this week that it has plans in place to meet all manufacturing obligations.

India Confirms First Case of Coronavirus

India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus in Kerala, a southwestern coastal state. The government said in a statement that the patient is a student at Wuhan University and has been isolated in a hospital. It also said the person is in stable condition and being closely monitored.

Philippines Confirms First Case of Coronavirus

The Philippines Department of Health said it confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus, after the patient’s lab results arrived in Melbourne, Australia.

This article was originally posted on FX Empire

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