Asia Mixed on Battling Pandemic

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed on Wednesday as countries in the region continued to put measures in place to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index gained another 403.06 points, or 2.1%, to 19,353.24, as shares of index heavyweight Fast Retailing surged 7.7%

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared Tuesday a state of emergency to combat coronavirus infections in major population centers. Singapore also passed a set of laws that bans social gatherings of any size in both private and public areas, according to local media reports.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.76 per U.S. dollar after staying above 108.8 for much of the trading week so far

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index faltered 282.92 points, or 1.2%, to 23,970.32. Hong Kong extended its ban on public gatherings of more than four people, as well as the closure of some bars, till April 23.

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6137 following a rise from levels below $0.609 seen earlier in the week.

Globally, more than 1.4 million have been infected by the coronavirus so far while at least 81,000 lives have been taken, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 lost 17.68 points, or 0.5%, to 3,780.34

Meanwhile, China lifted travel restrictions in Wuhan — the virus epicenter in mainland China — effective from Wednesday, marking the end of a lockdown that began on Jan. 23.

In other markets

In Korea, the Kospi index dipped 16.46 points, or 0.9%, to 1,807.14.

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index popped 141.08 points, or 1.4%, to 10,137.47.

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index ditched 17.68 points, or 0.5%, to 2,539.44.

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 hiked 221.81 points, or 2.3%, to 10,031.66

In Australia, the ASX 200 faded 45.34 points, or 0.9%, to 5,206.94