Asia, Australia Endure Heavy Losses

Shares in Asia Pacific mostly fell in another day of turbulent trade on Wednesday as the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak globally continued to weigh on investor sentiment.

The Nikkei 225 lost 284.98 points, or 1.7%, to 16,726.55. Japan’s exports declined 1% in February as compared to a year earlier, according to provisional data released by the country’s Ministry of Finance on Wednesday. That compared against a 4.3% drop expected by economists.

The Japanese yen traded at 106.97 per U.S. dollar following an earlier low of 107.70.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index collapsed 971.91 points, or 4.2%, to 22,291.82.

Australia stocks led losses among the region’s major markets, as majority of the sectors fell.

The Australian dollar was at $0.60 after declining from levels above $0.61 yesterday.

The White House is weighing a fiscal stimulus package worth anywhere from $850 billion to more than $1 trillion, part of which could include direct payments to Americans.

Governments across the world have taken drastic measures as they seek to slow the spread of the virus, with European Union member nations agreeing to close the EU’s external borders to most people from other countries for 30 days. In Asia, Malaysia will close its borders, schools and most businesses from Wednesday until March 31.

Globally, more than 184,000 have been infected by the coronavirus while at least 7,529 lives have been taken, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organization.

In other markets

The CSI 300 dropped 73.42 points, or 2%, to 3,636.26.

In Korea, the Kospi index subtracted 81.24 points, or 4.9%, to 1,591.20

In Taiwan, the Taiex dumped 220.96 points, or 2.3%, to 9,218.67

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index demurred 28.91 points, or 1.2 %, to 2,425.62

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 went against the tide and gained 20.47 points, or 0.2%, to 9,454.89

In Australia, the ASX 200 deleted 340.21 points, or 6.4%, to 4,953.20.