Asian Shares Decline On Virus Concerns

Asian stocks fell broadly on Monday as worries about the coronavirus outbreak outweighed the boost from strong U.S. employment data.

With the virus outbreak showing no signs of slowing, the head of the World Health Organization has warned about the potential for more cases beyond China.

Chinese shares advanced as authorities lifted some work and travel restrictions, helping businesses to resume operations after long delays.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose by 14.52 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,890.49, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index shed 0.6 percent to finish at 27,241.34.

Japanese stocks fell notably, with coronavirus concerns and weak corporate earnings weighing on the markets ahead of a holiday on Tuesday. The Nikkei 225 Index fell 142 points, or 0.6 percent, to 23,685.98, while the broader Topix closed 0.7 percent lower at 1,719.64.

E-commerce company Rakuten fell 1.5 percent after reports of a raid by the country’s antitrust officials. Toray Industries declined 2.3 percent after the manufacturer of fibres and plastics cut its annual profit outlook. Camera maker Nikon plummeted 5.8 percent on positing weak earnings.

Meanwhile, Leopalace21 soared over 15 percent after the scandal-tainted apartment builder reported a recovery in occupancy.

On the economic front, official data showed that Japan posted a current account surplus of 524.0 billion yen in December, up 12.8 percent from last year. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 464.7 billion yen following the 1,436.8 billion yen surplus in November.

Australian markets fell slightly, dragged down by miners and energy companies as deaths from the coronavirus outbreak crossed 900.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 10.10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,012.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 13.40 points, or 0.2 percent, at 7,108.

Mining heavyweight BHP lost about 1 percent, while rival Rio Tinto ended marginally lower. Energy

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