Asian stocks took a heavy hit on Friday, with global markets on track for their worst week since the financial crisis as investors grew increasingly alarmed that a novel coronavirus pandemic could push the world economy into recession.
Tokyo’s Nikkei index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng both slumped. The Shanghai Composite Index also fell, reversing a positive trend for Chinese stocks that had accompanied indications that the outbreak may be slowing in the country where it originated.
New cases of the virus continued to surge outside of China, which on Friday announced 327 new cases and 44 deaths. South Korea’s tally surpassed 2,000, while countries from New Zealand to Belarus confirmed their first cases, among almost 50 nations now afflicted, as governments respond with measures such as school closures and event cancellations. A day earlier, infections soared in Europe and the Middle East, while the first known case in sub-Saharan Africa was confirmed in Nigeria.
Investors have watched the outbreak’s progress with increasing concern, dumping risk assets and piling into havens such as U.S. Treasury bonds. U.S. oil futures
slipped more than 3 percent, raising expectations that producing nations will cut output after meeting next week.
Here are the latest developments:
- Asian stocks fell sharply, with Japan’s Nikkei index down 1,000 points in afternoon trading. This followed another rough day on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones industrial average shed nearly 1,200 points and all major indexes fell into correction territory, down 10 percent from recent highs.
- There looked set to be far more cases confirmed outside China, the epicenter of the crisis, then within it. China announced 327 new cases and 44 deaths. South Korea had announced 256 new cases on Friday morning, bringing its total up to 2,022, while New Zealand announced its first case.
- President Trump tweeted that the virus was spreading “very slowly in the U.S.” and suggested his political opponents were blaming him for the outbreak. His remarks came forward after a whistleblower alleged that the U.S. government sent workers without proper training for infection control or appropriate protective gear to greet evacuees from Wuhan, China.
- Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics said they would announce next week how they plan to hold the torch relay. On Thursday, Japan asked schools to close until early April.
Published on: Feb 28, 2020 13:36:15