(Singapore, Feb 21, 2020) A new round of Covid-19 outbreak outside China has spooked Asian markets after Wall Street pulled back from record highs as more companies warned earnings could be hurt by the epidemic, the AFP has reported.
So far, over 2,200 people have died from the novel coronavirus, which has infected over 75,000 people, mostly in China but spreading panic around the world.
While Beijing claims its epidemic control efforts are working, the rising death toll and number of new infections abroad have rattled investors, the report said.
A batch of warnings from companies over the impact of the virus on bottom lines — including Danish ship operator Maersk and Air France-KLM — and weaker manufacturing data in Japan also fanned anxiety, the report said.
The report says that initial hopes that the virus would have only a short-term impact on earnings and economic growth have given way to the reluctant realisation that it could linger.
“It took Apple to do what the coronavirus couldn’t –- make stocks feel a little queasy,” said Stephen Innes of AxiCorp as quoted by AFP, referring to the tech giant’s warning Monday that it would miss its quarterly revenue forecast because of the disease.
“The market seemed to absorb the initial Apple shock in its typically pleasant manner, but it’s the aftershocks when corporate America starts waving the warning flags in tandem that could prove to be the biggest gut check.”
Seoul’s Kospi index fell 1.5 percent after the country confirmed 52 more virus cases, taking its total to 156 — the second-highest national toll outside China.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.4 percent as investors took to the sidelines ahead a long weekend. Sydney and Taipei both shed 0.3 percent.
Meanwhile, demand for gold, which is considered a safe haven in times of uncertainty, has benefited from the spreading virus as investors reduce their risk exposure.