Asian markets mixed as investors digest surge in coronavirus cases

Shares rebounded in Asia on Friday after an early sell-off, though Japan’s benchmark declined as investors reacted to news of a growing number of cases of a new virus among the local population.

China on Friday reported another sharp rise in the number of people infected with COVID-19, as the death toll neared 1,400. The National Health Commission said 121 more people had died and there were 5,090 new confirmed cases. The number of reported cases has been rising more quickly after the hardest-hit province changed its method of counting them Thursday. There are now 63,851 confirmed cases in mainland China, of which 1,380 have died.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK, -0.59%  fell 0.6%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +0.31%   gained 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, +0.38%   also rose 0.6%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 XJO, +0.38%   advanced 0.3% and South Korea’s Kospi 180721, +0.48%   gained 0.5%. Benchmark indexes in Taiwan Y9999, +0.20%  , Singapore STI, +0.00%   and Indonesia JAKIDX, -0.09%  were steady to higher.

China was also scheduled to cut tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. goods in half effective at 1:01 p.m. Beijing time.

On Thursday, Wall Street that snapped a three-day streak of record highs for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite. The selling marked only the second day this month that the market has declined.

Investors had largely set aside worries about the economic impact of the virus outbreak the past two weeks. Markets rallied this week partly because the number of new cases appeared to be slowing. But those hopes were dashed by sharp increases in both the number of cases and newly reported deaths Thursday after the hardest-hit province of Hubei began counting doctors’ diagnoses without waiting for laboratory results in hopes of getting patients treated faster.

In Japan, concern rose

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