Asian shares mostly lower as new China virus cases spike

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower yesterday as reported cases of the new virus jumped in China.

The Shanghai Composite declined 0.7 per cent to 2,906.07 in afternoon trading.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.3 per cent to 27,730.00. Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.1 per cent lower at 23,827.73, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 per cent to 7,103.20.

Shares were lower in Singapore, Thailand and India, while New Zealand and Taiwan rose.

China reported more than 15,000 new cases of the COVID-19 disease and 254 more deaths. The jump was apparently due to a new reporting methodology.

A woman walks past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AP

Local officials have been widely criticised for their handling of the outbreak of the new form of coronavirus. The virus first surfaced last December in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and has since spread to more than two dozen countries. China has replaced its top officials in Hubei and in Wuhan.

The spike came as a surprise for investors, who had become more at ease because of a recent decline in the daily number of new cases.

Market Strategist Jingyi Pan at IG Group, said if the spike portends a “steeper upward trajectory from here, short-term risk aversion could return”.

Many countries have implemented travel restrictions on recent visitors to China, which has more than 99 per cent of the world’s reported infections.

On Wall Street, stocks marched higher on Wednesday as investors focused on the latest batch of mostly solid corporate earnings.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.65 per cent, to 3,379.45. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.9 per cent, to 29,511.42.

Benchmark crude oil lost 24 cents to USD50.93 a barrel. It rose 37 cents to settle at USD49.94 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 42 cents to USD55.37 a barrel.

The dollar weakened to JPY109.776 from JPY110.08. The euro strengthened to USD1.0885 from USD1.0876.