Thu, 16 Jul 2020

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Stocks in the Asia Pacific region sank on Monday as fears mounted over the spreading coronavirus, and the impact it could have on the regional, and global, economy.

Travel-related stocks were the hardest hit.

"Any economic shock to China's colossal industrial and consumption engines will spread rapidly to other countries through the increased trade and financial linkages associated with globalization," Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiCorp told the Reuters Thomson news agency on Monday.

The Australian markets were closed due to the public holiday in lieu of Australia Day which fell on Sunday.

Shares in Air New Zealand and Auckland International Airport were sold heavily on the New Zealand stock exchange. At the close of trading Monday, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 70.67 points or 0.59% at 11,807.14.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed down483.67 points or 2.03% at 23,433.51..

Chinese markets were closed for the Lunar New Year, which has been extended by two days in Shanghai because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Shanghai Markets, which have been closed since 23 January, will re-open next Monday 3 February.

The Hong Kong exchanges will open this Wednesday, but the usual ceremony to welcome the new year has been cancelled - for the first time in the exchange's history.

Our decision is based on the increasing risk of coronavirus infection in Hong Kong, and knowing that the health and safety of our guests and colleagues remain our highest priority, the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) said in a statement.

Currency markets were volatile. The Japanese yen rose sharply to 109.09. The British pound was stronger at 1.3061.

The euro dropped sharply to 1.1029.

The Swiss franc was easier at 0.9710. The Canadian dollar was little changed at 1.3161.

The Australian dollar, tumbled to 0.6808, an acknowledgement of the significance of China as an importer of Australian goods, particularly commodities, chief among them, iron ore.

The New Zealand dollar was only marginally weaker at 0.6578.

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