Asian Markets Mixed In Cautious Trading


Asian stocks ended mixed on Tuesday as the pace of new coronavirus infections slowed in China and South Korea said it aims to test more than 200,000 members of a church at the center of a surge in coronavirus cases.


Countries around the world stepped up efforts to prevent a pandemic of the flu-like virus, with the U.S. pledging $2.5 billion to fight the disease.


Chinese stocks ended off their day's lows as investors cheered reports of a continued drop in new virus cases outside Hubei.


The benchmark Shanghai Composite index ended down 18.18 points, or 0.60 percent, at 3,013.05, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged up 0.27 percent to 26,893.23.


Japanese stocks nosedived to hit a four-month low as trading resumed after a long holiday weekend for the emperor's birthday.


The Nikkei average tumbled 781.33 points, or 3.34 percent, to 22,605.41 on fears that the coronavirus outbreak could escalate into a pandemic. The broader Topix index closed 3.33 percent lower at 1,618.26.


The yen's sharp rebound over the past couple of sessions hit automakers, with Honda Motor, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda Motor losing 3-7 percent. Central Japan Railway slumped 6.3 percent, East Japan Railway declined 2.9 percent and Keisei Electric Railway lost 5.5 percent.


Market heavyweight SoftBank gave up 3.6 percent and Fast Retailing retreated 4.2 percent. Fujifilm Holdings rallied 2.8 percent after reports that Japan is mulling using the company's anti-flu drug Avigan to treat coronavirus.


Australian markets plunged for the second day running on fears of a coronavirus pandemic. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell 111.70 points, or 1.60 percent, to 6,866.60, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended down 111.60 points, or 1.58 percent, at 6,953.80.


Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell around 2 percent, while energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search lost 2-3 percent.


Treasury Wine Estates slumped 4 percent after the company downgraded its profit guidance for a second time this year. Serko declined 3.3 percent after the online travel and expense management business issued a coronavirus (COVID-19)-related warning.


Vitamin maker Blackmores dropped 1.8 percent as it reported a 46 percent plunge in first half profit and flagged trouble from the coronavirus. Artificial intelligence data services company Appen surged 6.5 percent after posting strong full-year results.


Seoul stocks rebounded after data showed the pace of coronavirus spread slowed in the country compared to a day earlier. Investors also pinned hopes on policy measures to blunt the economic impact of the epidemic. The benchmark Kospi inched up 24.57 points, or 1.18 percent, to 2,103.61.


Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said on Monday he has advised the government to start the review and execution of a supplementary budget to cushion the virus' impact.


New Zealand shares tumbled after an overnight drop in U.S. and European markets amid heightened coronavirus fears. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 137.89 points, or 1.16 percent, to 11,719.23.


U.S. stocks plunged overnight to extend losses from the previous two sessions as investors grappled with spreading coronavirus fears.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled as much as 3.6 percent to end the session at its lowest closing level in well over two months, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plummeted 3.7 percent and the S&P 500 plunged 3.4 percent.

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